There’s nothing more frightening than a 17 year old in a hoodie carrying Skittles and a bottle of tea – or at least that’s what an over zealous, self appointed neighborhood watch leader would lead people to believe after he shot Trayvon Martin to death. Was it the hoodie and snack foods or the fact that he was a young black male that made him threatening?
As a mother, I’m devastated for Trayvon’s mother and his family. As someone who believes that negative stereotypes lead to bad decisions on how we see and treat people, I’m angry that a boy lost his life because he was stereotyped. Had Trayvon been white and the shooter black, I believe the response by law enforcement and the immediate community would have been different.
Outrage is building all over, including a ”Million Hoodie March” taking place in New York City. An online petition calling for Trayvon’s killer’s arrest has collected more than 900,000 signatures and continues to grow. Now, the Department of Justice and FBI are involved and the case will finally get a professional review – I don’t consider the poor job done by Sanford Police Department to be professional.
Rockford has had its own pain around racism and race issues. This senseless killing has opened the wound for many in Rockford and as a result, more than 20 people met at Second Congregational Church on Thursday. Their purpose was not to demand anything from law enforcement, but to call attention to the need for racial justice and understanding; to promote the need for a positive social environment for all community members.
Any one of our children could have been Trayvon – less likely so for those who are white, however. My kids live in hoodies and I don’t believe anyone has ever considered them threatening, even in the dark. To show solidarity with the family of Trayvon Martin, this ad-hoc group has arranged a public display of support and invites the northern Illinois community to join them in a Hundred Hoodie March for Trayvon Martin on Sunday, March 25th at 3:00 p.m. The march will begin at Rockford City Hall and will end at the Founders’ Memorial. All participants are asked to wear hooded sweatshirts.
I encourage you, and your children, to join this peaceful walk. Coming together to support a young man who was killed based on how he looked can go a long way in mending the frayed social fabric of our community. It can go a long way in teaching our children and friends that we shouldn’t judge, bully or harm others just because they don’t look like us. This is a perfect time to embrace diversity.