Trayvon Martin; Why Race Still Matters in America

While Chief Justice John Roberts may believe we've gotten past race in America, the trial of George Zimmerman for his confessed shooting of Trayvon Martin demonstrates; we haven't. Each of us still carry the loaded luggage of our assumptions about the others.

There is the assumption that a young person, a young person of a different race, a young person of a different race in a hoodie; is up to no good. What about the Medicare-aged ladies I see on the Chicago CTA buses layered in hoodies and jackets on a nippy Chicago evening? Are they too up to no good?

There is the assumption that guns and bad guys are just like in the movies. The good guy wins. Therefore the other person must be the bad guy. Reality isn't childhood games, fantasists.

And of course there is the worst assumption of all, sponsored by the gun lobby that a well-armed populace is the best solution. Anytime you put a gun in the hand of a nervous frightened citizen, things will not end well.

We must learn to question our individual and collective assumptions. Truly, for they are killing us one by one. They could kill you, or me.

Flashback to eight winters or so, on a cold January night. The Husband was out of town, but his live-in girlfriend, our dog Whoopi, still needed her evening walk. So layering on the sweater, the coat, the hat and gloves...and a scarf leaving only part of my face visible, I went out. Returning via the back alley, I encountered a man I didn't know. He was with a young child. He looked at me with suspicion, the neighborhood had downspouts stolen and you know I might be a thief.

"WHO are YOU?" he asked.

I looked at him like he was nuts. "I live here," I responded pointing to my unit a few doors down.

"Oh," he says called out on his assumption.

What if I'd been a different color? Or I didn't speak English? Or I lived in a crazy state that gave impunity for citizens to shoot each other because they are afraid.

What is it, this fear of the other, America? Since when did we become a land of blustering wusses?

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    Candace Drimmer

    I was an accidental expatriate; love and marriage led me to it. One day I was a bandy-legged kid sitting atop my dogwood tree looking out of my small backyard world in 1950s New Jersey, wanting to move somewhere--anywhere, different. Next thing I knew my father had accepted a job in Houston TX. I was ecstatic, it was a foreign land in 1961 America. After high school graduation, my parents’ gave me a matched set of fawn-colored hardsided American Tourister luggage. Taking the hint, I went to college; well four colleges in five years--it was the 60s after all. Meeting a young hirsute anti-war, soon-to-be-Peace Corps volunteer, I fell in love. After finishing up college coursework for my degree, but before I even walking a graduation stage, I grabbed the paper airline ticket my boyfriend had sent me, my brand-new passport, and was off to the airport and Lima, Peru.

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