• author
    • Terri Connett

    • August 3, 2013 in Columnists

    Brother or Other

    I can’t get Trayvon Martin out of my head.  Oh sure, I will eventually forget the image of his lifeless body, face-down on the grass.  In time, his desperate screams for help will evaporate from the Ethernet.  And Sabrina Fulton’s sad, yet dignified, face will fade from MSNBC.

    But what stays in my mind are the cruel, after-comments from my fellow human beings.

    “He got what he deserved.”

    No, what this child deserved was to arrive home safely with his snacks and to watch the NBA All-Star game with his little brother.

    But mean, white America doesn’t see it that way.  Trayvon wasn’t a high school student; he wasn’t our brother or even a brother from another mother.  Trayvon was just plain “other.” Racists don’t believe “others” deserve the same basic human rights and dignity they enjoy.  They have no sympathy or empathy for “others,” even when they are innocent children.

    Sadly, this is in our blood.  White Europeans came to this country and eventually stole 97.7 percent of the land from reddish-brown skinned, Native Americans who rightfully raised families, formed communities and settled their land.  Somehow Wild West whities felt entitled to cross the Atlantic and help themselves to the “all you can steal” Old Indian Country Buffet.   And since this pre-dated Wal-Mart, there were only so many bullets available.  So during the Siege of Fort Pitt in 1763, the white man gave the Indians a disease, disguised as kindness – small pox-infected blankets.  Now that is cold-blooded.

    Thankfully, they didn’t all die.  Today, 2.4 million Native Americans still exist, as does their “other” status.  But they aren’t all smoking peace pipes and counting their chips at the Indian casinos.  Native Americans suffer the highest poverty rate of all ethnicities – 22 percent.  Reservation poverty averages 28.4 percent.  And the Blackfoot Reservation in Montana has an unemployment rate of 69 percent.

    Racist palefaces didn’t and don’t care.

    And when it comes to black skin, we saw even more hateful acts.  Slavery, lynchings and Tuskegee – to name a few.  Beginning in 1932 the U.S. Public Health Service, in partnership with the Tuskegee Institute, tracked 600 African American men with syphilis to study the natural progression of this disease when untreated.  The unknowing participants thought they were receiving free health care from the government.   But instead, they were given plain old aspirin and fake potions because our white government saw these devalued, black-skinned men as “other” and fair game in a sinister experiment.  Were lab rats out of the question because they were white?  In 1947 penicillin became the standard treatment for syphilis, but this human betrayal continued until 1972.  In 1997 President Clinton finally apologized to the few who were still living.  But how do we ever make this right?

    Crazy ass crackers didn’t and don’t care.  (I will forever thank Rachel Jeantel for sharing the moniker that her friend, Trayvon, had for his killer!)  I wouldn’t be surprised if some Tea Bagger is sitting in his basement right now trying to figure out how to sew and spread the AIDS virus into hoodies.  Good luck with that, Einstein.

    The big question in my mind is: Is it really in our nature to be so cruel to “others” or do we learn this hate from conservative talk radio.

    Last month “60 Minutes” rebroadcast a segment entitled “Are Humans Inherently Good?”  Leslie Stahl sat in the baby lab where little cutie pies, as young as three months, were exposed to decisions of morality – in the form of puppet shows.  I was relieved to learn it is our nature to be good.  The astute bambinos were overwhelmingly drawn to the helpful and kind puppet and conversely snubbed the outwardly mean one.

    But just as I was feeling hopeful, Bert and Ernie got all George Zimmerman on me.  The behaviorist wanted to know if it was in our nature to stick with those who seem to be like us.  It turns out babies who like Cheerios, repeatedly prefered the Cheerio-loving puppet to the one fond of graham crackers.

    If you believe this study, published in Nature magazine in 2007, we come into this world pre-disposed to favor those like us. That in itself isn’t bad, but we must learn not to fear “others.”  Learn from our parents, our teachers, our faith, our life experiences and just plain common sense.  It’s one thing to feel more comfortable among “our own” but it’s quite another to feel superior to the “others.”

    It’s obviously too late for Rush, Hannity and Glenn Beck.  They missed it somewhere between learning to burp and poop.  And, I’m sorry, but I can’t make myself read their Wiki bio’s to learn if they have children or not. If they have spawned, well we can only hope the kids live in Florida and the sunshine state’s natural order of things will take care of them.

    But how do we get the rest of today’s prejudiced, white America to learn empathy for “others?”  How do they learn to feel sorrow for the 100,000+ dead Iraqi civilians, in addition to grieving for the 2977 victims killed on 9/11? How do they spend time with groups unlike themselves to learn how alike they really are? Gay rights have progressed quickly because they live among like-people.  Skin color is not closet-able. How do they get past their ignorance about race, gender, religion, the working poor, the sick?

    And how do they stop seeing Trayvon Martin as a scary, thuggish black man up to no good; rather than a normal teenager walking home, talking to a girl on his cell phone on a Sunday evening?  Why can’t they see him as a son, a little brother, who did not deserve to die?

    • Great words Terri. Thanks for sharing your thoughtful comments. I agree. I hope more people learn to care.

        • Terri Connett

        • August 4, 2013 at 1:13 pm
        • Reply

        Thank you, Madge! And yes, let’s hope!!

    • I agree, Terri. The “after” hate is poisoning. I saw one blogger who had drawn a swastika on top of a photo of Trayvon’s forehead. Like you, I cannot get Trayvon out of my memory. it is because what happened is so unjust. Somehow, though, from the “burp” to the “poop” time, we all do understand the difference between right and wrong. Immoral people know the difference and choose to do wrong anyway. These are people who do not care about empathy because their skin will not turn a different color overnight. Therefore, they are untouchable in that kind of hate. Even if they all congregated to the sunshine state to live together, they would never leave the rest of us alone. Never.

        • Terri Connett

        • August 4, 2013 at 1:16 pm
        • Reply

        Thanks Kathie for your thoughtful comments. I think you’re probably right. Hey maybe if they all moved to Florida they’d sink that god awful state and we’d kill two birds! 🙂

      • Carole Kauffman

      • August 16, 2013 at 6:04 am
      • Reply

      You nailed it again. Terri, you are so good. I finally had the time to read and enjoy.
      Your skating sis,

    • This article is short, sweet and 100% reflects my sentiments on the subject. Trayvon Martin Case: Did We Learn Anything From The Duke Lacrosse Trial? I still don’t know all the facts and will not make a judgement, but for certain I think we’re looking at another media debacle on par with the Duke Lacrosse case. The similarities in these cases are uncanny as more information comes out. You got the black victim, and white suspect(s). A media frenzy followed with the NY Times and others printing articles every day. Cries of racism are heard daily, prior to the facts of case coming out. And yet this time around the media may be behaving even more nefariously. For Trayvon Martin, a very innocent looking picture of a younger Trayvon is being put next to a very mugshot-like photo of Zimmerman. An almost angelic images was being painted of Trayvon, yet we’re now learning he was a very troubled teen, involved in drugs, burglary, and was at the very least a gangster wannabe. He was portrayed as a 140 lb. weakling, but later learned to be a 6’3″ football player (I very much doubt he was 140 lbs.). It was originally reported that he was tracked down by Zimmerman and shot in cold blood as he screamed for help which was caught on a 911 call. Now it turns out Zimmerman was actually the one on the bottom screaming for help as Trayvon was smashing his head on the sidewalk after initially breaking Zimmerman’s nose. Injuries to the back of Zimmerman’s head and grass stains on his back corroborate his testimony. But more importantly, eyewitnesses corroborate it. It is still possible Zimmerman was guilty of a crime, but no evidence for that has arisen yet. Zero! Virtually every aspect of Zimmerman’s story has been corroborated. When evidence does arise of a crime I’ll be the first to acknowledge it. The article is very short and to the point, so i’ll past it here.

      • Quinton Santini

      • January 22, 2014 at 11:51 am
      • Reply

      I think people see and hear so much death/murder on TV News, Movies, Video Games, Time articles, etc they just eventually disregard any emotion to such acts. I will be drinking coffee with my wife and a story will come on the morning news about a murder and it hardly even fazes me. I mainly listen to make sure it did not happen near me.

      • Terri Connett

      • January 24, 2014 at 9:52 am
      • Reply

      Sadly, I think you are right, Q.

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