Margarita Mercure Hibbs: Walking While Being Brown, Black or Poor is Dangerous in America

Reposted from the Progessive Democrats of America

By Margarita Mercure Hibbs, Chair, Torrance County Democratic Party

MargaritaMercureHibbsRecently, during a lively conversation with a conservative Latino, who claimed that Zimmerman was being railroaded and Trayvon Martin was someplace he shouldn’t have been and was to blame for his own death. I asked him, “Are you aware that this boy was visiting with his father in the same neighborhood, where he was killed?” At which point, the man said to me, “That is not true. He was not living there. I never heard that once and I have been watching FOX News on this issue religiously! He had no business being in that neighborhood.” I had to prove through various Google searches and sites, ABC News, CBS News and CNN that Trayvon’s father did in fact live in the same neighborhood, before he would accept that fact.

I then asked him, “Are you saying that walking home from a convenience store with snacks is inappropriate for any young person of color to do after 7pm in the evening in certain communities? Young Latino teens, dressing just like Trayvon walk down the street everyday here in Estancia and they are probably being judged and profiled as thugs too. Is that alright with you? Does it seem reasonable to you that a young person would be fearful or anxious when a person begins to follow him in a car and then stops his car and follows the young person on foot? Are you saying that when the follower confronts the young person without identifying himself and his affiliation with a Neighborhood Watch Program, that the young person doesn’t have a right to be fearful and then defend himself?”

I continued with, “Everyone keeps saying that George Zimmerman was so afraid of this tall black teenager and yet, he chose to get out of his car, against the directions of the 911 Dispatchers and the Neighborhood Watch policies, and follow this young teenager. He also claimed, after stating that he was the Neighborhood Watch Captain, that he didn’t know what street he was on. There are only 3 streets in his neighborhood. This is truly counter to any common sense. I think Zimmerman was emboldened by the gun he carried and made an aggressive decision that cost this poor kid his life, for simply “Walking While Being Black”. And then I told him that I believe and I can choose to believe this because Zimmerman has already proven that he lied about a number of things, that he approached Trayvon Martin with his gun in full display and that is why Trayvon tried to fight him. That is my theory and just as valid as any nonsense Zimmerman claimed.” The man then said to me, “You may be right, after all, we only have Zimmerman’s word about anything!”

I then asked him the following, “Let me ask you one more question, Do you think that if the Tea Party had been primarily blacks and Latinos, marching with their pistols and rifles in full display, do you think people would be okay with that?”

His response, “Hell no! White power would be demanding that the National Guard come out and put these people down, or arrest them, claiming that they are “Anarchists or Revolutionaries” trying to topple America! Bottom line Margarita, life is not fair in America! So get over it, but now that you pointed out a few things that I did not think about, I see your point. If the Tea Party was Blacks and Chicanos, the movement would have been burned up in flames.”

I then turned to him and said, “Let’s talk about this indifference of tragedy among the races, from a closer perspective. Do you remember those 10 bodies of young women, most of them Latino, that were discovered buried on the West Side of Albuquerque?” He said, “Yes, I do! We heard little to nothing about this and it is obvious that the case has exposed a serial killer in our region. What the hell?” I responded, “Exactly! No public outrage, no public demand for open investigations. It was alright, because these girls were “Bad Girls”, “Wayward Girls”. I don’t suppose the families of those girls feel the same way, do you? Can you imagine if the 10 girls had been white? Remember the Natalee Holloway case? That is all we heard about for nearly 3 years.”

So in this tragic place, I think about this sad tragedy and the indignation of the Zimmerman lawyers and their supporters, mostly White people, for even being brought up on charges, we are seeing just how sad the state of race relations is in America. I also think about my personal journey. Remembering the fury I felt when my beautiful “brown sugar” complexioned baby sister Juanita, while waiting with our father for her older sister to be done at work, is told by my white manager, Mr. Johnson, “Hey little girl! You need to get out of here. We don’t allow your kind to loiter in our lobby.” Or, as a grown Latina woman, the memory of my white mother in law saying to me, “Margarita, with all the racism in this world, thank God that your children came out looking “White” instead of Latino!” At the time, I was horrified by her statement, but in a sad and twisted way, now I see what she meant, but it still stings and hurts to know this kind of inadequacy and hurt from my husband’s mother.

It feels as though it is beyond the pale that the Zimmerman team would win the case and come out with no indication of compassion for the family of Trayvon Martin. They demonstrated arrogance and zero graciousness in the win. It is wrong, but I also see the other issue that plagues our country, that often, it is not just about the color of the skin, in the manner that justice is dealt. In the overwhelming numbers of black and Latino men who are prosecuted in the courts, and populating our prisons everywhere, it is also about the lack of money that any defendant has at their disposal to fight for justice. In our country, it is becoming evident that justice, accountability and fairness leans to the privileged and monied.

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Also see the Travon Martin Foundation