Our Daughter Will Have Dark Skin
It has been a rough week.
A few days ago, an altercation occurred between a teenager and a neighborhood watch volunteer. The teen was black; the volunteer Hispanic. One died, the victim of a gunshot wound to the chest. Many call it a hate crime. Others claim the shooter had cause. The story has been front page news across the nation for days.
Last weekend, a blockbuster based on an extremely popular young adult book series smashed box office records all over the world. Yet a disturbing trend of disparaging tweets about the race of a pivotal character made headlines. Some of these tweets expressed disappointment that an African-American actress was cast for the role; others said the character’s death “wasn’t as sad” as they thought it would be “because she was black.”
Apparently we’re not so enlightened as a society to believe the days of racism — either assumed or actual — are behind us.
Just look at the aftermath of the week’s events: Death has been politicized, or minimized according to color. Those with lighter skin are hunted in Chicago by gangs with hoodies seeking some warped form of vigilante justice. A celebrity with an axe to grind carelessly shares the wrong address of the shooter, instead condemning an elderly couple to night after terror-filled night, fearing for their lives. Technology is used to degrade a young girl because of her skin color, despite the author’s obvious intent for the character.
Ignorance is revealed. Latent anger, even hatred, is uncovered.
I intentionally used the passive voice there… because that’s how we tend to process tragedy. We separate ourselves, believing “we” are somehow above the fray. ”We” would, of course, never do such things. ”We” are more empathetic, more enlightened, more tolerant, more politically correct. After all, “we” elected an African American to the presidency (insert sarcasm here).
“We” are different than “they” are. Surely.
But are we? Keep reading…