Trayvon Martin: A Case for Muslim Parents
It is time I spoke with my self-confident teenage son about a few unpleasant realities.
- He is a man
- He is in the teen-to-30’s age group
- He is Muslim
- We are in America
This promises to be a most painful conversation for both of us.
For me, because I don’t want my son to be hurt or killed because his name says he is a Muslim. We are Americans and I for one, demand the right to be equal and have the same rights and protections as any other person in this country. I will face off anyone to stand firm for my rights and I don’t care whether they are wearing a gun, a uniform or what; this is MY right and by God, I will not surrender it to any bigoted jackass out there. I have different standards for my son; I want him to be safe and if it is a choice between being safe or, being right, I want him to be safe. I don’t want to be so lucky as to visit him in the hospital because some cop or some hyper-alert, ultra-patriot decides that my son is a threat to him or to his (MY!) country just because my son’s name identifies him as a “Muzlem“; I don’t want to be so unlucky as to visit him in a graveyard…
It will be very difficult for my son as well.
He has been brought up to believe he is as much an American as anyone out there; that he is the same or better, than any Christian, Jew, Pagan or, anyone else; that he does not have to back down before anyone for any reason; that his rights are sacred and nobody can touch them.
I succeeded only too well, now I have to back away from my message.
Trayvon Martin was killed by a vigilante in Florida. the sixteen-year old kid was walking from the store, to visit his girlfriend and our hyper-alert, ultra-patriotic vigilante decided that a Black male had no business being in his neighborhood unless he was there to rob and rape. The vigilante accosted the Black youth, there was no altercation, but the young man was killed…shot to death for being a Black male in the “wrong” area.
This did not happen out of thin air, it happened because of decades…centuries, of programming White minds that Blacks are sub-human, inferior; Blacks are criminals, rapists, drug-dealers and that this will never change. This message still echoes in non-Black minds in spite of Emancipation, in spite of the Civil Rights movement and in spite of the fact that Blacks can be seen in every wake of White life, from the White House, the Supreme Court to Civil service and businesses.
Those lessons still have a hold on the minds of non-Blacks in this country AND abroad where White empires ruled and where White propaganda pervaded the social fabric. There are MANY non-Whites who are not Black and who still sub-consciously believe the old White propaganda against Blacks.
Trayvon Martin was not the only victim of such propaganda-driven bias. Tragically, this is far too common, not a year goes by without at least one and perhaps many such Black victims, killed at the hands of Police or hyper-alert civilians.
It is not too different for Muslims.
The state of mind in America towards Muslims, is changing rapidly.
Entire industries are arrayed to train civilian and uniformed employees (Police, FBI, CIA, Military) that Islam and Muslims are the greatest threat to the US and to the West. Our Police, FBI, Border agencies and other law-enforcement arms of government are being trained against “terrorism” with training whose foundation is “The Muslim Threat”…tens of MILLIONS of dollars a year, are being expended by our local and federal governments on anti-Muslim training camouflaged as anti-terror training.
Not only are the Police and FBI being trained against Islam and Muslims, they are being trained to recognize traditional Muslim names. This means, that the officer or agent’s demeanor would undergo a change as soon as he sees the identification papers. I had just such an experience at the US-Canadian border. After looking at my documents (name) an agent asked me if I was smuggling in any “guns, grenades or terrorists” in my van.
For my son, I am afraid he will talk back or, respond with sarcasm. Depending on the situation, the location and the officer or agent, anything but a straight, quiet demeanor, could have life-ending consequences.
How do I convince him I am not just reflecting an irrational paranoia?
How do I convince him that his name alone, is enough to provoke a harsh reaction from the Police or other agents?
Every time there is a Trayvon Martin or, a John Williams or, any of the all-too frequent minorities shot by an over-eager cop or a civilian, my heart stops.
How do I stop this growing bigotry?
How do I protect my children from these over-eager bigots?