Don’t be Black or Wear a Hoodie if it’s Raining

It’s one of those times I’m embarrassed to be an American, and enraged on behalf of an innocent victim.

By now we know the story of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old boy who was assassinated by a gun-totin’ “neighborhood watch” member who felt threatened by a kid eating Skittles (it’s a type of candy) and talking on his cell phone on a public sidewalk. And how scary it must have been for the assassin that this boy also had his hooded sweatshirt keeping his head dry in the rain! What a terror, a kid with a sweatshirt. Damn (black) kids.

The shooter went after Martin even after the 911 operator told him to stay in his house. (Yep, he called 911 because a teenager walked by wearing a sweatshirt.) He decided to take justice into his own hands. He left the house, stalked the kid, got in his face, and shot him to death. Dammit, we homeowners have the right not to see some black kid walking by on the sidewalk drinking a bottle of iced tea.

The law of the land and the Florida authorites seem to agree that all is well, as the assassin was not held and no formal investigation has been made. It seems we could all legally just buy a gun and shoot someone walking on the sidewalk outside our house.

That is, if the person you’re targeting is Black.

I haven’t understood much of anything that’s come out of Florida in a long time. Let’s see, there was Brouward County and the hanging chads . . . the Koran-burning evangelist . . . something scary about “100% orange juice” not really being orange juice . . . they elected that lunatic governor who said that running a state government is just like running a business . . . Wouldn’t it be nice to blame the death of Trayvon Martin on the stupid Floridians and leave it at that?

But I can’t blame this one on Florida. Separate from our country’s deep obsession with firearms and our rights to use them however we damn well please, we still live in a racially divided country in many ways.

Right here in Minnesota, a state that is so far north it borders on the Great Country of Canada, we have lynched innocent black men, including quite recently in 1920 in the city of Duluth, on Lake Superior. Here’s a brief summary from a memorial marker:

We visited this memorial after a long Duluth winter and there was still snow in April, but here are a couple of shots:

"An event happened upon which it is difficult to speak and impossible to remain silent."

No, I didn’t shoot Trayvon Martin myself, but as long as a fellow American citizen can do it and go home to sleep peacefully and guiltlessly in his own bed that night, none of us are any better off than we were when Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie were hanged from a streetlamp by a drunken and “good humored” mob (as the Minneapolis newspaper reported). Trayvon’s murder is a damn shame for all of us Americans.

Shame on us.

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