President Obama told us that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin. Then he told us that Trayvon looked like the President himself when he was a teen.
Depending on the mother of the hypothetical child, my son could look like President Obama or even Trayvon Martin. He could also look like George Zimmerman, again, depending on the mother’s ethnicity.
I missed the point of the President’s identification with Trayvon.
If a young Barry Obama had bashed a George Zimmerman-type individual’s head against the sidewalk pavement, I expect self-defense would be appropriate for the person getting bashed. I did not know looks matter under the law, but the President is a lawyer and he just told us that looks matter. He told us that if looks don’t matter to the jury who heard the case, looks still matter to him as our President.
If he was talking about racial profiling being unacceptable, then we can compare experiences, for I too have been racially profiled. I have been the only white person on the bus. I have been the only white person waiting at the bus stop. At the time, I did not recognize that I was being oppressed. I did not think about bashing anyone’s head against the sidewalk.
If the President had a son, he would not look like me.
When I was going to school in Chicago, I had a job in the evenings as a recreation director at a church that had a gym. Basically, I refereed basketball games for kids in the neighborhood, whether or not they looked like me. I did not have a car in Chicago. I would wait for a bus, take the bus to the “L” (elevated train) to a stop where I would transfer to another bus. It was, as Jim Croce sang about, “the south side of Chicago, which is the baddest part of town….”
I would close the gym at 9 p.m. It would take me about an hour to get back to my apartment. No one of any race gave me any trouble in the dozens of times I traveled by public transportation as described — except once.
I got off the “L” one night and walked down the steps from the tracks to the street below, where I would wait for a bus. As I got to the bottom of the stairs, two black policemen stopped me to ask what I was doing there.
They did not ask everyone, just me. I understood that I did not look like I belonged in that neighborhood. So what? They did not arrest me. They were just wondering.
Maybe they thought I was a drug dealer. Maybe they were concerned for my safety. Maybe they thought I was a foreign exchange student from Sweden who was lost.
If President Obama had a son, he would not look like me. I look more like President Ford’s sons. Apparently, we don’t worry about President Ford’s sons being racially profiled, but we should worry about it. They are not welcome in certain neighborhoods. Justice for the Fords! Let my people go to the south side of Chicago!
Now that I know I was wronged, I see how I should have reacted differently. I should have been offended. I maybe would have been justified in slamming the head of one of the officers against the sidewalk. Slow-witted as I am, I guess I did not think about it at the time. I am too dull to have been out-raged that the policemen stopped me and questioned me. I had not had the benefit of sensitivity training. (My wife is still waiting for me to sign up for those classes.)
President Obama has taught me that the black policemen would not dare shoot me for assaulting them because, you know, that would be a racist thing to do. Looks matter. A lot. You can only shoot someone who looks like you if you want to stay out of trouble. You cannot ask someone of another race the question I was asked — “What are you doing here?” Those are the rules. Just ask President Obama or Attorney General Holder.
So, having been enlightened to recognize that I was indeed a victim of clearly racial profiling, I am organizing protests. Blonde kids can ride the “L” and wait for the bus in the south side of Chicago if they want to and nobody better say nuthin’. Justice for blondes — now! That is my cause. Blonde Power!
Redheads, on the other hand, are on their own. They need to stay with their own kind. They are not welcome at my marches. That is where I draw the line. I might feel differently if I had a redheaded son.