Let the Outcry Echo Beyond Trayvon

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    testThere was a time when the ‘hoodie’ was commonly known as a ‘parka’ – a
    garment mostly used by athletes and the military. The slang term
    ‘hoodie’ came out of the black culture, and over the years has been
    widely associated with suspicion and crime. Whenever news reports show
    surveillance video footage of a robbery or break-in with the
    perpetrators wearing hoodies, chances are viewers reflect on images of
    popular black Rappers and Hip/Hop artists who popularized the fad. As
    in any generation, the youth – just like 17 year old Trayvon Martin –
    want to be in (peer) style. No blame there, but unfortunately
    Hollywood and the music industry have seemingly conspired to bombard
    society with images of the bad boys in the ‘hood wearing hoodies.

    There’s now a national – even international –  outcry for justice in
    the Trayvon case, but why has there been no such outcry against
    foul-mouthed so-called artists and other icons who spew extreme
    profanity and contempt? Where’s the outcry against the glamorization
    and glorification of illicit sex, drugs and the rampant acts of
    violence in the mainstream? Why can’t the organizers of these
    nation-wide rallies for Trayvon, rally a product-boycott of the
    unfiltered, unsanitized mockeries of ‘freedom of speech?’ Hollywood
    and the music industry continue to place profit over decency and
    morality, and ignore the consequences of the negative influences they
    traject.

    Some people are comparing the tragic killing of Trayvon to the
    historic case of Emmett Till, but I think this may be a teachable
    moment for a broader comparison, and I say this without speculation
    and with sensitivity to Trayvon’s family as details of the incident
    are still unfolding. During the Civil War when President Lincoln
    signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the freed slaves (known as
    Freedmen) were ill-prepared for what was beyond their familiarity on
    the plantation, and there were severe consequences including murder at
    the hands of white southerners who could not and would not accept the
    edict. Now today, since the historic election of President Obama, the
    illusion pervades that America is now post racial – that the election
    of a black president is proof that America is not as prejudiced and
    bigoted as in its dark past. That’s simply not so. There is still a
    lot of anger, hatred, and resentment out there. What has been created
    is a sense that black children can reach new heights and come and go
    as they please with the perception that it’s now an even playing
    field. However, many of them (if not most) are just as ill-prepared as
    the post-slavery Freedmen. To say the least, some parents are not even
    teaching their children the beatitudes and common courtesies like
    ‘please,’ ‘thank-you,’ ‘excuse me,’ and other interpersonal skills.
    Lack of these attributes coupled with a sense of entitlement is a
    formula for disaster. How can they feel entitled to anything? How can
    they think they’re entitled to a job when they’re speaking improper
    English, their bodies are pierced from head to toe, and their pants
    are sagging? Our misguided youth are being shut out and excluded due
    to lack of training, discipline, and humility. They may be grown in
    size, but not in character, and misconstrued negative behavior could
    be responded to as if they were an adult and not a mere child.

    The disrespect and presupposition of the black experience is only
    fueled and fostered by images of today’s self-proclaimed black ‘role
    models’ whose vulgar messages devalue and denigrate women. How can
    anyone respect Black America if Black Americans do not demonstrate
    respect for themselves and others?

    The outcry for Trayvon has reached cross-cultural and ethnic
    proportions. A poster at one of the rallies read, “Trayvon today, who
    tomorrow?” Speaking to a CNN reporter, one woman who appeared to be
    white said, “We need to stop criminalizing black men in America.” So
    while we clamor for justice in Trayvon’s case, we should also examine
    ourselves to see what we can do individually first, then collectively
    to help prevent such tragedies in the future. May God help us that the
    outcry will echo beyond Trayvon.

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