Would you be scared?

It’s dark. You’re all alone and you’re on your way home when you notice a car following you. You don’t recognize the individual or the car but you know AND you can feel that they’re following you. You’re not sure why because you haven’t done anything wrong. So why are they following you? Your heart begins to race and you begin to feel danger…scared that the stranger has bad intentions. There couldn’t be any good intentions because they haven’t said hello, blew the horn, or anything that would come off as friendly. Would you be nervous? Would you be scared?

So, you begin to walk faster, telling the person on the phone about how uncomfortable you are with this strange car and stranger following you. You’re not from the neighborhood and so you feel a little out of place. “I just want to make it home…but I need to get ready to defend myself if this person comes after me or if they use their car to run me down. Anything can happen,” you think to yourself. The car continues to follow you and continues to make you feel uncomfortable. The hostile, unstable environment has been created by the stranger and now, you’re both trapped within this bubble. Are you scared now?

Whew! The strange car has dissappeared. Oh wait! There it is again and now this stranger is getting out of the car and heading my way! “Now, this person wants to confront me?! Step to me?!,” you ask yourself as you prepare to protect and defend yourself. Up to this point, you are the victim….THEN….a fight ensues….

The stranger shows up to the “fight” with a gun. As you defend yourself from this stranger who was following you and now confronting you, he in turn feels attacked withing this hostile environment he has created.The stranger defends himself against you protecting yourself, shoots you, and kills you. You die with 2 items that you bought from the store and a cell phone.  He lives to see another day as THE VICTIM who was defending HIMSELF from YOU….AFTER THE FACT!!!! AFTER THE FACT THAT HE CONFRONTED YOU, FOLLOWED YOU, FOR NO OBVIOUS REASON OF WRONG-DOING!

Some would say that the stranger was looking for trouble and found it in someone who was not afraid to protect him/herself. He was following you when you were doing nothing wrong, not breaking into a house, beating someone up, hijacking a car, therefore, he was creating a hostile environment and being the aggressor because you were in a passive position.

Since that time, individuals have come to the stranger’s rescue, donated money for his defense because you had smoked weed before and was not a “perfect” student. People, even journalism students in a journalism class who are encouraged to simply state the facts, have justified the murder because they read and heard in the media that you were just a trouble maker, a trouble maker because of the things you had done IN THE PAST. Things kids do every day, all day, of all races, ethnicities and genders. The fact is that you were not making trouble that night…but your murder was ok because you were probably going to cause trouble in the future. One less trouble maker to worry about. One less day for you to grow up and live a good life. Yeah, it’s been a good day and now the streets are safe from people who are frightened of others because of how they look. I say this because the ONLY thing your killer knew about you that specific night was WHAT YOU LOOKED LIKE. What you looked like to them and what your image represented. That is all.

Are we that much safer? Was a killer killed? Was a rapist killed? How about a pedophile? No…a person was killed who just so happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person who took the annihilation of his own fear into his own hands. He killed you, a normal person, who was growing and maturing and someone who had made mistakes in your life like we all have. You were killed because someone was afraid of what you represented. Perhaps we should put THAT phenomenon on trial…our own fears that are used to judge, persecute and even kill others…

But until then…who was the FIRST VICTIM I ask you? And if it had been you walking the streets of a strange neighborhood and you were being followed by a strange car and a complete stranger…would you be scared? Would you try to protect yourself as you’re being approached by a stranger that didn’t give you any reason to believe that they were approaching you on a friendly basis? How does one put the fear of a person on trial? What would be the answer if I asked your killer what was he afraid of? Would he tell me the truth? Why did he have to approach you with a gun? Is it possible that you were defending yourself and because the other person had a gun, you lost the fight therefore YOU were the perpetrator? The aggressor? Because you lost a fight that should HAVE NEVER HAPPENED? And if the killer gets away with this act, will this set the precedent that will have detrimental acts for every human being walking freely down the streets of America? Is it then ok that a woman shoots and kills a man walking the streets at night because she sees all men as abusers and he is the image of said representation by being a male so he was probably going to be an abuser some time in his life?  So the killing is justified? Is it ok for black people to start killing white people because the white victims probably did or said something racist in their lives before the night of their killing? Never mind that the man is not, was not, and will not be an abuser and the white victims were not, are not, and will not be racists, they REPRESENT what the image of a racist and an abuser is to some, therefore, they are potential targets. Is this ok with you? Is this fair? Is this legal? Is this right? Of course it isn’t…so why should it be ok, justified and rationalized in the case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman?

And what is MOST upsetting is that some of the journalists and pseudo-journalists, aspiring journalists who are creating these mediated messages have never moved outside of their own fear to see this case differently in their reporting. They are not reporting the facts of the case of that night only. They are incorporating issues that have nothing to do with that night to frame a story that is slanted from the moment they avoided confronting their own fears. The same fears Zimmerman voiced that night. The same fears that were voiced in a journalism class in America filled with aspiring journalists. The same fear that is uttered at the local watering hole as people sip on libations to help deal with not only their fears, but their lives and dissappointments in general. And THEY are the ones who are perpetuating the myths, the fears, and will one day write or continue to write what they call the truth; a truth that is nothing more than their fear manifested for self preservation.

Our journalists must be vigilant to report the truth and uphold the Code of Ethics that distinguishes us from infotainment platforms. And ALL OF US, as citizens, must understand, embrace, and confront our own fears so that we won’t hastily pass judgment on one another and fire the first bullet or write the first “X” on the next target to be killed.

Speak Truth to POWER

Published in: on June 30, 2013 at 4:25 AM  Leave a Comment  
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