by: Melinda N. Gainer
For the past few days, I have watched my newsfeed flood (almost assaulted) with video, written stories, and pictures regarding the heinous murder of this baby-faced, seventeen year old, black male. I’ve read the banter among my Facebook friends and their friends, I’ve witnessed the support for rallies and have read numerous blogs all surrounding this injustice…I’ve said nothing. Not because this situation is not worth talking about, but because this situation is nothing new to Black America. While many are outraged about Trayvon’s death, I am outraged because of a much bigger picture.
Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., citizens of Florida, Roland Martin, college students, Facebook users, are forming rallies, signing petitions, and are writing blogs every single day, but where was everyone almost 18 years ago when a black man in the South was ambushed, chained to a truck and dragged to death, dismembering his limbs, by white supremacists? And now in the age of Facebook, where were the FB posts, last year, when 7 drunk white teenagers, went on a hunt to “find a nigger” in Brandon, Mississippi; they beat a 46 year old black father and ran over him with a F-250 truck? Where were the FB posts, when Michael Vick went to jail for participating in a dogfight (his worth was compared to that of an animal when he was jailed)? Where were the FB posts, about 6 years ago, when Marcus Dixon was put in jail for having sex with his white “girlfriend” but her parents called it rape? Where ARE the FB posts, when black children are being kicked out of school for minor offenses such as using cellphones? Where are the FB posts, protesting these Southern Governors who are creating Bills to make voting extremely difficult for minorities, on the brink of a Presidential race to re-elect a Black man? Where are the FB posts, protesting the disrespect this country has had for Barack Obama, even by often omitting his title President? Where are FB posts when Rick Santorum makes statements during his GOP primary rallies that suggest the country needs to stop giving everything to blacks?
The issue I have with OUR people, is it takes Trayvon Martin for us to go bonkers, but all of the other underlying racism and hatred we seem to miss. I even read sophomoric posts that somewhat scrutinize the “Black President” for not doing more. Our president is under an immense level of stress and while he has wrongfully addressed other state issues in his federal capacity, this may not be something he needs to speak about just yet, but for the sake of this conversation, say he hasn’t said or done enough…nor have our Black congressmen, black governors, black mayors, black lawyers, black presidents of sororities and fraternities, black doctors, black professional athletes and entertainers, black teachers, black union leaders, black mothers, black fathers, black preachers said enough either.
We are such a reactive group of people. This is why our race will continue to be 30 steps behind. At one time, blacks were at least second-class citizens in America today we are being outpaced by every other race. Even this Hispanic Zimmerman has more rights as a partial immigrant than a black man. We are being outpaced not because all other races are any better but because of situations like this. We react in the wake of something…they plan decades down the road. If we were to band together and fight for justice, fight for equality, and fight to improve our brothers and sisters who are clearly making a mockery of every struggle our ancestors had, we would not be able to prevent senseless murders, but we would be able to ensure we are receiving more than adequate justice.
We think we have arrived and we are owed something by this government. We are content with being able to share filthy water fountains and social space with white people so much so that we forget about everything that still needs to be done for our race. Half of us are so radically black that we miss everything sitting in front of us and others of us are so radically blind thinking “some of my best friends are white” that we have missed the continuous struggle that has in essence gotten worse. Our people are too focused on being rappers, video vixens, and welfare recipients or highly religious, extremely militant, or obsessively upper middle class. We are failing because we are a reactive society. We just sit back and wait for something to happen to be outraged.
So, you black people who have suddenly become so black…and so outraged, open your eyes. This has happened, will happen and will continue to happen as long as we protest WHEN things happen instead of plan BEFORE they happen. In a few weeks, FB posts, pictures, and videos about this young man will fade away, you will not post about the work that needs to be done by our leaders or even those of us who sit quietly in our homes or at the Ritz Carlton having brunch on Sunday’s with our friends…you will be back to posting statements, pictures, and videos about your food, your natural hair process, your cars, Dancing with the Stars, your outfits and makeup, your Black Girl Run marathon shots, your vacations and maybe even your children getting dressed for Easter but you will not address the ongoing issues that are plaguing this race and our people. Get it together and stop reacting!
Melinda N. Gaineris a freelance event planner. She recently re-launched her event-planning company, Eventually Yours after leaving her alma mater, Hampton University. Prior to this new opportunity, Melinda was the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admission and an Adjunct Professor in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications. Melinda is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and has served on the board for Girls, Incorporated of South Hampton Roads. In her spare time, she enjoys entertaining for friends, gardening, and writing. To reach Melinda, contact her at Melinda.firstname.lastname@example.org.