I talked to my kids about Trayvon Martin,
the flaws and intricacies of the American judicial system, about racial
profiling and about how the smallest of bad choices can keep them from
coming home at the end of the day.
We’re all, most of us, anyway, waiting together for 93-year-old Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela to go. But, really? How much can one man bear? How much beating? How much ostracization? How many lies? How much defamation, alienation and starvation?
I have noticed during more than 25 years
of paying attention to it that many gays and lesbians of color in this
still greatly segregated city further segregate ourselves because
sometimes we feel pressure to choose
between our selves of color and our same-sex-loving selves.
There was this woman with a deep, slow
drawl spoken in something between a rasp and a whisper who had a
lightning bolt inked high on her right cheekbone not as thuggery, irony
or defiance but as a simple, stunning marker adding to the mystique of a
woman easily mistaken in her era-defying androgyny for a man.
Sixteen months ago in a gated Sanford,
Fla., community patrolled by a zealous, jittery and armed volunteer
neighborhood watchman who felt threatened by the mere presence of an
“unfamiliar” black kid walking alone, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin died on a sidewalk of a single
gunshot to the chest.
And even in the vestiges of his boyhood
in his overtures toward independence, he does what all our children,
grandchildren, nieces and nephews among him do. He is looking for his family. Even when he is letting go, he is holding on.
It all started, as it always does, with fried chicken. Offenders reducing a black man’s identity
to a deflated stereotype — especially one boiling down to food — have
usually felt like the oppressed in their own lives because they are
losers on some level; they cannot quite reach that elusive gold ring of
I’m sick of the Tailhook nature of
navigating daily life when people are so blithely rude they let doors
slam in the faces of the people behind them, they jostle and slam into
others without so much as an “excuse me,” so by the time I retreat back
to home base I feel like an abused slab of dough.
Forget the bickering, back-and-forth and ballot measures. What we’re now doing — and I use “we” to
mean whomever accesses city coffers or pulls capital and/or operating
budget purse strings — is putting the streetcar before public good and