Trayvon Martin case and Hunger Games casting reactions show present day racism
Karmen C. King shares her views on recent examples of racism in today's society
Published: Monday, April 2, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 5, 2012 14:04
*Author’s note: This column contains language that may be offensive to the reader; it was left intact to highlight the severity of the issue.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Aug. 28, 1963.
It’s been 44 years since civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was shot on a hotel balcony in Memphis. Many laws have been passed since then to guarantee equality for all United States citizens, yet the scars of the past still weigh heavily on the present.
In the past month, we have seen two glaring examples of hatred and fear that still linger in the hearts and minds of our fellow man.
First, there was the tragic killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, in which a young, black male was allegedly targeted for wearing a hoodie in the wrong neighborhood; and for being black. The most outrageous point in this case is that the alleged killer is known and has not been charged with a crime.
Despite, having been told to stand down, George Zimmerman went ahead and confronted the youth. Trayvon’s cries for help could be heard throughout the neighborhood and on the 911 calls. Then there was a gunshot, and the cries stopped forever.
Critics have lambasted the fact this killing has been turned into a racial issue in the media. However, it’s not just the media that made this all about race, it was Zimmerman, and his multiple calls to 911 about suspicious black men in his neighborhood. This was a trend for him, not a one-time occurrence. He made 46 calls to 911 since Jan. 1, 2011, with several of them reporting suspicious black men.
This story shows us just how far away society is from Dr. King’s dream.
The second example comes from a different media.
The Hunger Games opened to critical acclaim, and some criticism of an entirely different, and more heinous, sort.
People were outraged that a young black teen portrayed one of the characters, Rue, even though the book had described her as having dark brown skin.
The many comments on Twitter were harsh and made me wonder if they were tweets straight from the 1950s.
“I was pumped about the Hunger Games,” one Twitter user said. “Until I learned that a black girl was playing Rue.”
That’s one of the tamer responses.
“HOW IN THE WORLD ARE THEY GOING TO MAKE RUE A FREAKING BLACK BITCH IN THE MOVIE?!?!?!??!,” another Twitter user said. “lolol not to be racist buuuuut…. I’m angry now ;o”.
One of the harshest responses of all: “Sense [sic] when has Rue been a nigger”.
As the world gets smaller and smaller thanks to social media, it’s hard to imagine being able to hate someone who is just a tweet away.
I had a difficult time writing this column.
I didn’t want to get on my moral high-horse and start flinging about the word ‘racist’ without acknowledging that I too am more frightened of meeting a dark man on a dark street than a white man. And that’s wrong of me.
It makes me wonder where that fear came from.
It did not come from my father, who taught me well.
It does not come from me, I have many black men that I call friend.
It did not come from my heart, which is heavy today.
It comes from the subliminal, and not so subliminal, way we treat black men in media and entertainment. It’s the decades of seeing the black man as the villain of the piece. It’s the way people around me, here in the deep South, speak about black men.
It’s time to stop this cycle, and begin to live Dr. King’s vision.
It’s time to stop seeing the world through the haze of race.
It’s time to stop the hate.