Sunday, July 14, 2013



But things like this give me hope. Thank you Wesley Hall for posting this and understanding. You make me proud young man.

(Shared on Facebook)

"Man, I'm just glad I had a mom who gave me the realness from a young age. I can remember thinking she was so stuck in the past for telling me that I couldn't do or say or wear certain things, that I could not stay out as late as my white friends could, that I could not "experiment" with any of the things my white friends did. I struggled so much with her for trying to impress upon me the fact that I was different. Because I'm supposed to be. I lived in a nice house, spoke more than one language, was well educated and well socialized and I did not understand why I needed to constantly act in a manner designed to disarm another person's suspicions about me.

But wow, I get it now. Every black kid has that moment where he has to decide to accept the armor that his parents present to him to get through life as an American black male, or walk around naked. And the crazy part is, it’s probably something most people outside of the black community never see. I can remember my mom talking to me over and over and over again about what to do and who to call if I was ever picked up by a police officer. She made sure I knew that I needed to declare that I was exercising my Miranda rights rather simply evoke them without notice. If you were in JNJ your mom probably made you take a WHOLE FREAKING CLASS on how to deal with police officers and other people who were perceived to be threatening.

And I say that to say that as scary as people think black males are, black males are conditioned to be ten times more afraid of everyone else. We’re conditioned to be afraid of goin to certain parts of the country, afraid of people with certain political view, afraid of police officers, and sometimes even afraid of other black and latino males. The most sickening thing about this whole trial has been the deliberate campaign to rob Trayvon of his right to be afraid. I know I would have been.

And I owe her the deepest of apologies for all of the times that I accused her of overacting or impressing a vision of a society long since passed on the one that exists today.

It doesn’t matter how well traveled you are or how many languages you speak or who where you went to school. It doesn’t matter how many friends you have or how much good you’ve done in the world. From afar we are all the same.

It used to hurt when my mother would tell me I couldn’t put my hood up or that I couldn’t stay out as late as my white friends. She told me I was a young black male and I couldn’t afford these things and I figured she never knew how much it hurt for be to know that she did not have faith that I could transcend the many stereotypes that swirl around me and be seen as an individual.

But when I think about my own mother having to come down the police station, and Identify my naked body and come home and go in my room that would feel strangely empty. She would have to walk past my favorite custom built aquarium and the framed boards my class in japan made for me on my last day of study abroad, she would have to open my closet and go through all of the clothes I would never wear again and find my favorite suit and then walk out of a room where every object holds a memory.

She would have to go on interviews and meet with lawyers and try to be strong in the face of unimaginable tragedy. While people picked apart my character and found every facebook status where I cursed or every stupid picture I was ever captured in. She would have to sit in court and dignify people who sought to put me in the ground with not a shred of justice with her presence and her silence. And then on top of that, after a year of pain, to hear from 6 other mothers that my life meant nothing........

And the thought that after 24 hours of labor, thousands of dollars on tuition and extra curriculars and trips and summer activties, and millions of tiny sacrifices that she could be left with the dust of my memory and the guilt of having not prepared me for this thing called America.

I joke about it, but I know how much I mean to her. Before I go parasailing I think about her, and before I jump in the ocean I think about her, and when I had tigers crawling all over me and licking my face I was thinking about her. But I did those things because I knew that even if I got poisoned by a cobra or mauled by a tiger, I know it would have been hard.......but she would have derived comfort from knowing that I died pursuing happiness, adventure, and experiences that are worth their risks.

But I know that she would never ever be able to recover from knowing that I died the way that Trayvon died. And so I understand so well why she taught me to think about the world in the way that I do. To remember how to love life, be open to others, but to always remember who I am and to be so secure in who I am, that I accept that I must constantly think and behave with consideration for that one person who might think they already know.

I have fought with my mom, dad, and stepdad about what it means to be a young black man in 2013. And I have at times been annoyed at all of them for presenting me with my constraints. But I am so lucky to have been armed with the truth at such and early age. The world can be so confusing for us. So much kindness, and so much cruelty. We've all accused our parents of over estimating the dangers out there. But they managed to teach us not to allow this country to fill us with fear, while simultaneously not allowing it to rob us of our vigilance. Shout-out to all of the parents out there, giving that extra course on how to keep your children from being victimized in a society that does not believe that they can be victims"


webb said...

Ok, so now I put my foot in it, Sam.

For many reasons I admire you. One of the biggest is for having raised a strong, smart, fun, funny young man - who happens to be, well, not exactly "white" - whatever the hell that is.

I cannot imagine what a mother says to her African American child today. "Well, Child, you haven't been able to drive while black for the past 20 years, and now you can't walk while black." it is unacceptable.


Do Bianchi said...

our hearts are broken over this, too. All I could think as the images flashed on the TV screen was the banality of evil. I just can't wrap my mind around it all...

Samantha Dugan said...

Not sure I see you putting your foot in it as much as standing by my side. The verdict came down on Jeremy's birthday if you can believe that and yes, it was a crushing blow that literally knocked the wind out of me and left me with a whole in my gut. One that I have yet to recover from. I read this morning that Zimmerman is demanding an apology from the black community, as the mother of a young black man I can only say, "Go fuck yourself. You and those other kind of white people just got their OJ moment, take it and keep your moronic and evil mouth shut." Lots of people out there acting like this was not about race, they are lying, this was all about race. Just Google Marissa Alexander and explain to me how a woman is serving 20 years in a Florida state prison for firing a gun in the air...and she didn't kill anyone! Oh did I forget to mention, she is a black woman. Turns my stomach. I do however appreciate you standing here with me Webb, means more than you know. I can take hatred and anger of lies an apathy, so your "stepping in it" here means a lot. xoxoxox

Happy birthday my Texas buddy. Yeah this whole thing has left me torn up inside and painfully hopeless. There are no words that will make this right for my son and no way for me to promise him that he will be treated fairly, that his skin color will never be an issue....hurts, as a mother to own this feeling. Sucks. Had a woman on Facebook post, "Well done Florida" for which I went right to my friend list and removed her. Not sure how you celebrate the acquittal of a man that murdered an unarmed child...special kind of evil that. Thanks for weighing in here kid, the support means a lot.

Samantha Dugan said...

Over. I can take hatred and anger OVER lies and apathy. Sheesh.

webb said...

Definitely right there at your side. The examples stretch from sea to shining sea and paint our country with bias from state to state. It breaks my heart. Consider yourself - and Jeremy - hugged ... hard.

Samantha Dugan said...

Thanks lady. Clearly not a topic most want to talk about so I appreciate that hug more than you know.

Winey The Elder said...

"Well I'm about to get sick
From watchin' my TV
Been checkin' out the news
Until my eyeballs fail to see
I mean to say that every day
Is just another rotten mess
And when it's gonna change, my friend
Is anybody's guess." - F. Zappa

Funny you should say that about their "OJ moment" because that's exactly what this feels like: another codified injustice. And the truly sad part? I keep expecting it to be different and I end up feeling like the chump.

One of my heroes, Cesar Chavez, said: we draw our strength from the very despair in which we have been forced to live. We shall endure.

My biggest abrazo to you my sister.

Samantha Dugan said...

I know you and Frank are right but this one, I let this one touch me. Let it hurt me and while I know it is not the most optimistic of things to do, I said fuck it, this sucks and this one more reminder that my child will always have this sort of thing to deal with and feel, well it hurt and I let myself feel it. Maybe not all that wise but I think the shrugs and "oh well, nothing I can do" bullshit is even less healthy, not to mention it lets people off the hook and not owning any part of the very real issue. I'm just tired of it love and I don't mind that some people think I am being foolish or dramatic....they can't know how this feels, nor can I expect them to. The fact that you, webb and Jeremy put your comments to a subject that is, uncomfortable at best, tells me lots about the people you are and where I sit in your hearts. You make me proud, and I so need that right now. I'll take that embrace and nuzzle deeply into it. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Sara Louise said...

After I saw the post, I shared it with my 'Family Group' on Facebook. They're my family on my Dad's side and we're a rag tag rainbow coalition of different shades of vanilla chocolate swirl. I knew that they (as everyone should) would appreciate it. It's sad. Truthful, heartfelt and sad. x.

Thomas said...

What saddens me is that Florida gets away with laws that condone this shit, and that the prosecution made a zillion mistakes in presenting its case. It's complicated, but there's reason to believe that a better prosecution could have produced at least a manslaughter verdict.

This is one of those cases where the judicial system worked but justice wasn't in the room.

Samantha Dugan said...

I think Jeremy was about 12 years old and one day I found him in the back room of The Wine Country, (I used to pick him up after school and bring him to the store where he could do his homework and we paid him to stock the shelves when he had time) very clearly upset and sad. When I asked him what was wrong he began to shake and his eyes filled with tears as he told me that the driver that was bringing in cases had screamed at him to, "Get the fuck away from my truck. Go on! Get." when Jeremy went to see how many cases were coming in. That's what makes me mad about this whole thing. Jeremy had every right to be there and looking into the guy's truck, the fact that he is a black male made the driver assume he was up to no good....that's what is wrong about this whole thing. If Zimmerman honestly felt threatened he should have stayed in the fucking car, as the police told him to, then he would have found out that Trayvon was just passing through, on his way home. Now we have a dead child and a bunch of heart broken or full of rage. Mine being one of them. Cannot remember another time I felt this, deflated and beat down. Taking this one hard so thank you for adding your feelings love.

Powerful stuff for sure. I sent it to Carl who is out of town and he wrote back, very simply, "Wow. I just wish it weren't true"...I'm with him on that one. Thanks for sharing with your family...I sent it to Jeremy too. Least he knows someone out there knows how he feels.

Charlie Olken said...

I have hated the south for most of my adult life and my teenage years, and every time I get ready to say things have changed, the same old bigotry, prejudice, bian rears its ugly head.

I am not talking about the justice system, which fails us so often, but about the simple fact that an unarmed teenager can get profiled, be drawn into a fight and killed for no other reason than that he is not white.

I do believe that somehow, someway G. Zim will get what is coming to him just as OJ eventually did. The world will not forget

And then there is the other evil here. Laws like Stand Your Ground and Concealed Carry with no permit are turning too much of our nation into vigilantes and uncontrolled bullies.

Wyoming and Idaho may not be any better than Florida in that regard. And if you live in Detroit or South Philly or East Oakland, it ain't that pretty either.

That said, let me put on my Pollyanna hat for a minute. We live in an imperfect world, but, for the most part, the folks who post here live pretty well, and while we must always fight against evil and injustice, we cannot lose sight of the fact that we are still pretty damn fortunate. It is the thoughts of good friends, family, birthdays, walks in woods that make my day--and I am grateful for it.

Samantha Dugan said...

Thanks for weighing in Charlie. Know what is also plaguing me? I actually wished ill on Zimmerman and the like. Like I was hoping something bad would happen to him and that, that kind of hatred and poison makes me no better than they are. I think that's why I've been so shaken...I let them get to me and I am feeling pretty ashamed.

I taught my son the same things as young Wesley's parents taught him. How to behave when you get stopped...and assuring him he will be stopped more often than some of his white friends. He knows that if he is wearing a hoodie, for protection from the elements, (he wears knit caps too, for the same reason) to remove them when walking into a store, as to not freak out the people working there. He knows these things and it was never easy making sure he did...just always had in the back of my mind that maybe someday people wouldn't have to do as I did, Saturday's verdict just proved we are far from that point. Hurts. Add fucking Texas and their war on lady parts and I just wanna throw my hands up. Argh!!

Thanks for being you Charlie. I love ya.

Charlie Olken said...

Not to go off on "ladies' parts", but Texas is just the latest example. Virginia, Wisconsin, Kansas and every other Red state is using the issue to gin up its base. It is so blatanly political that it is evil.

Now if only Canada had better weather--oh wait, we already tried that forty years ago before the draft ended.

Samantha Dugan said...

Lets invest in a couple good parkas and blow this crazy ass pop stand. xoxoxoxox

Thomas said...

"It is so blatanly political that it is evil."

And what else is new?

Fear runs so many lives and many politicians are skilled fear mongers, not to mention the evil wealthy business people who fund what is looking more and more like fascism.

Anonymous said...

Powerful post. Thanks for putting it up.