5:45 am. My alarm slaps me in the face. “Wake up homeboy! Time to get to work!” After rolling out of bed, I realize that my lovely wife hasn’t gotten up yet. That poses a dilemma, because she is parked behind me. That means that I have to walk to the train station today. Oh well, no biggie.
After I’m cleaned and ready to go, I step out onto the porch to test the temperature to see what the morning walk was going to be like. Should I wear a light jacket, a hoodie, a thermal, or go as is with short sleeves? After being outside all of 30 seconds, I realized that short sleeves weren’t gonna cut it.
So, I stepped back into the house and headed to the closet. What should I wear? Now normally, this would be a quick and easy choice. Pick up the hoodie, throw it on, and call it a morning.
After the events that took place this weekend, I had to sit there a moment longer. “I wonder if Trayvon thought twice about putting on his hoodie that night? Should he have worn a sweatshirt or even a jacket? Would it have mattered?” Tragic.
I didn’t want to cause a stir or be yet another individual to be categorized strictly by what he was wearing. So, I opted for the thermal…and the baseball cap to keep my head warm. So sad that I have to get dressed thinking of the potential consequences.
Then I made my way to the train station. As I waited for the Alum Rock train to pull up, all I could think about was Oscar Grant and that fatal night back on New Years 2009. I remember vividly. Seeing the grainy footage on the news about the BART cop that shot a young man in the back. I wonder…if he had known the outcome of the night’s events, would he have driven that night? Or, would he have just stayed home and celebrated 2009 with his family?
Then I began to ask myself various questions. Could that have been me? Would someone try to assault me because of how I look or the way I dress? I mean, c’mon, I know that sometimes I dress like an urban youth, but I’m not that guy. I mentor so many troubled young men and women to try and steer them away from drugs and violence.
I wear these clothes because I’m comfortable. Often times, when my kids see me rockin’ baggy jeans and Timberland boots, they are more open to talk to me than if I wore slacks and a button up shirt. Just because my comfort level is high doesn’t mean that it’s the same for those around me. I understand that.
Food for thought. We talk about this being an ever changing world. Really…how much has it changed? Sure, we operate phones and so many other gadgets just by a simple touch or voice command. Yeah, we can update ourselves on current events with just a push of a button rather than having to wait for tomorrow’s paper. The technology has changed and evolved, but have the people?
The main question that should be asked is: How differently do we treat one another? Does a young white male wearing a hoodie in the middle of a neighborhood get shot in the dark of the night? Does a young white male get a bullet to the back after a late night scrum on the local transit line? Probably not.
I hate to inject racism into any conversation, but the fact remains that it’s real. It’s still prevalent here in our great country, and truth be told…it sucks. No matter how far it seems we’ve come as a nation, all it takes is two situations like this to take us back decades.
I’ve been called “boy” and “nigger” by racist individuals. Trust me, it’s not a comfortable feeling. As a young, black male living in the South (at the time that these situations occurred), I was outraged and hurt to my core, but what was I to do? Who was going to fix it? Those were questions that I hoped that never had to be asked again.
Here I am. Asking those same questions years later. What am I to do? Who is going to fix this?
So, as I rode the train from my starting point to my destination on North 1st Street, all I could do was wonder how each family was coping. What do they do to move forward in a positive direction? Just pray.
These stories, no matter how tragic, can cause a young man or woman to become motivated the next leader we need to press through this. The Martin and Grant families can become an inspiration to so many as the days pass and the wounds begin to heal. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child is so true.” If WE raise our children to love everyone no matter their differences, then cases such as this can become distant memories.
This is wishful thinking, I know. Look at it this way. It starts with you.
Fruitvale Station tells the story of the last 24 hours of Oscar Grant’s life. If you have an opportunity to see it…take advantage.
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