What would RTH do?

That is the question.

If I were in a highschool yearbook, they would vote me most likely to die of a lynch mob. That does not prevent me from opening my mouth and serving a warm hearty cup of STFU to people who deserve it. My dark scathing humor will leave no matter of existence untouched. My innocence will touch your soul.

Welcome to a warped world turned inside out and upside down. All sorts of discretion advised.

Friday, July 19, 2013

I am not Trayvon Martin

But, I could be.

Well, I am a South Asian female. Usually, we are an unlikely group to be discriminated against. We're considered the coy model minority types. However, I look Hispanic. When I cut my hair real short, I look like an Hispanic boy from a distance.

Many years ago I was mowing the lawn, when an elderly gentleman passing by told me he liked my diligent work. He asked how much I charged for yard maintenance. I smiled and told him politely that I lived here. He walked away surprised. I always brag about the incident as a testament to my fine lawn mowing skills. I do a really neat job. The lawn looks fantastic. But there is a sad truth ingrained within. It is a testament of our racial prejudices and stereotypes. A young Hispanic working in the yard is immediately perceived as a gardener, a manual laborer. The thought that he could be a homeowner or resident of the neighborhood still surprises.

A few days ago I was walking late night. As always I was lost in my own world day dreaming. In my daze of day dreaming I accidentally walked up to my neighbors house and tried opening the door. It took a while for it to register in my mind that I was standing on the wrong porch. My neighbors are also Indians like us. They know me well. Even if I had accidentally startled and awoken them, we would have laughed about it.

I shudder when I think what it would have been like in Florida. What if I was in a white neighborhood where no one knew me. What if I was visiting a friend and accidentally walked up to the wrong house late night. The fact that there is a possibility that someone could shoot at me is positively terrifying. The fact that people are so mistrusting and would immediately deem a person of color as a robber or burglar is disturbing.

The Trayvon Martin case has reignited the debate of race dynamics in the United States. Today President Barack Obama made a gutsy move by speaking to the nation from the perspective of an African American. His speech was eloquent, thoughtful and poignant. What was impressive was the fact that he acknowledge the fact that crime and violence is prevalent in the African American community. He showed an understanding of how and why stereotypes are formed and called for the nation to find solutions.

I'm not perfect. Despite being a colored person, I am racially prejudiced as well. Even I have been guilty of looking at African American men with suspicion. Sometimes I feel scared if I'm alone and there are plenty of black people around. I don't feel that fear around Asians or Whites. So I understand George Zimmerman's perspective as well. He saw a black man and got scared. He was genuinely concerned for the well being of his neighborhood and its safety. I'm not going to demonize him when I know very well I'm no saint. I completely empathize with him. George Zimmerman isn't a bad man. He didn't mean to cause death and pain. He made a mistake.

But that is that. Just because I empathize with him doesn't mean I feel his actions are justified. Even good men makes mistakes. And when you make costly mistakes like the ones that take innocent lives you have to have consequences and pay the price. And it is because I get him, I can say without doubt that he is a racist who profiled Trayvon Martin. I say that because I am guilty of the same, and I feel terrible about it. My prejudices break my heart and I want to be a better person. I don't know if George Zimmerman can say the same. He killed an unarmed boy and got away with it. This would not have happened if Trayvon Martin was a white boy.

Another important point to note is that had George Zimmerman listened to the 911 operators and gone back home, we wouldn't be discussing this today. It would have just been that brief moment of asinine profiling we all do and hopefully try to reflect and learn from it in the future. He defied the advice of the experts and took matters in his own hands. Instead of backing off and ending a scuffle with a kid and a bag of skittles he decided to fatally shoot the kid. Not a warning shot that would have told the boy to scurry, but a shot that took the kid's life.

No George Zimmerman is not a bad man. He is not a cold blooded murdered. He didn't want this to happen. But he did kill an innocent kit. It was a mistake. But he did defy common sense, authorities and human compassion and chose to take the fatal route. He is guilty of manslaughter or at least accidental death. He should pay a price for his racial profiling, defiance of authority and taking an innocent life.

Many people say that Trayvon Martin shouldn't have attached George Zimmerman. There is a point there. I agree. That was stupid and reckless. But if we defend George Zimmerman with stand your ground, what about Trayvon. If you are being followed and think you maybe at risk, wouldn't you want the right to stand your ground? What if Trayvon had a gun? What if he was scared to death of that creepy man following? What if he tried to fire a warning shot but his hands were so shaky he killed George Zimmerman? Would we defend him for standing his ground? Would we still say it was in self defense? Or would we assume the worst - that he is a black male prone to violence?

Let us not kid ourselves. We are all a bunch of fucking racists. We are all victims and propagators of prejudices. This post is not just about George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin. This post is to ask a bigger question - How do we become better people? How do we build a better society? How do we make the world safer and better for the future?

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