I have a friend who happens to be white and he texted me yesterday with a simple question.
“I understand why the Trayvon shooting is a tragedy, but why has it really struck a chord even with people who aren’t normally political in nature like Lebron and in this case you?”
He is correct, I normally stay away from political issues, especially publicly. Just a personal preference because I believe certain conversations become counterproductive and to be honest my job is to write about sports, not high horse like a Toure.
To answer his question, I put it to him simply.
When we look at Trayvon we see ourselves. From myself to Lebron, many African-American males have been that kid in the hoodie, the jersey, the white tee or whatever clothing that seems to make people uncomfortable and stereotype us as gangsters and thugs.
We have been that kid in the mall that is being followed, the kid pulled over driving while black or the kid who is harassed by the police because we fit the description and the description is we are black.
Sometimes, as you get older, you move on to a more comfortable position and you forget what it was like to be that kid.
Then you get a shocking reminder that you could have easily been Trayvon Martin. You could have been wearing that Hoodie, You could have been the one begging for their life.
My uncle told me when I was very young because he knew I loved sports and would understand the analogy that when a black man walks out of his door he is already down 14-0 in the game of life. You are always fighting from a deficit because of the societal stereotypes and perceptions about you. He never told me to complain or use it as an excuse, but as motivation to prove people wrong.
I try to remember that every decision I make doesn’t just effect me, but the next 10 black men someone may interact with. What Trayvon’s case reminds me is that while we have come so far as a society, black men are still Public Enemy #1.
I was going to convenience stores for “skittles and tea” from the time I was 8 years old. I went to High School in a predominately white neighborhood. My best friend had to go to summer school, but we wanted to head off to the mall later that afternoon so I went with him. But I didn’t want to hang out at the school, so I walked around the neighborhood. I was wearing a Jerry Rice White and Red San Francisco 49ers jersey and some red basketball shorts. Not because I was in a gang, but because I played WR and I was trying to model my game after Jerry Rice, not to mention our school colors were red and white. I was confronted by an older gentleman, and not in a pleasant way. I was asked questions and called names I didn’t think were appropriate. I was being approached in a threatening way, I didn’t feel safe and I didn’t know what to do. Only when classmate recognized me and came to my defense did the situation defuse itself.
I had forgotten all about that until a few days ago, then I remembered clearly.
When we say WE ARE TRAYVON, it isn’t because it is a catchy saying, it is because it is true.
Unlike others I don’t care why or when Lebron and the Heat decided to let their voices be heard, when the politically correct thing to do is say nothing, I am just glad they did.
Because that is the true definition on being CLUTCH.