Walking while black
On July 11, at 4:30, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, little Jocelyn Rojas was reported missing.
A young boy and his friend, who looked a lot like Trayvon Martin, heard news that a girl had been abducted, so they rode bikes around the area in search of her. They joined the police and about 100 first responders who all looked for little Jocelyn.
You might say the boys in Manheim Township were acting like real Neighborhood Watchmen.
When they identified the girl in the passenger seat of the perpetrator’s car, they pursued the car while on their bikes. Imagine the adrenaline in their systems. Imagine their moral fiber! I imagine them pumping their little hearts out to keep an anonymous stranger safe.
Upon being chased by two kids on bikes, the pervert who abducted Jocelyn pulled over and kicked her out of the car.
Little Jocelyn ran toward bicyclist Tamar Boggs, who kept her safe until the police arrived.
These boys are heroes. They deserve a parade. Shake a pom pom! Give a toast to the odd story when everything goes right for an innocent child (the young boy who looked like Trayvon, Jocelyn, Tamar Boggs). This is the best of society. When no prejudice or hatred colors an action and everyone does the best of his or her ability within the moral fibers of society. Yeah! Go us! Everyone wins! A little girl gets to grow up and live her full life! Two heroic boys will tell their grandkids about their selfless act of bravery.
I think it matters that the girl was white and the boys on their bikes were black. This case demonstrates what happens when racism and hate doesn’t mask itself as white privilege. To me, Jocelyn’s story is the story of a child who is made safe by the brave kindness of strangers. Trayvon’s story is the story of a child who is murdered by the cowardly act of one stranger. The hero for Jocelyn is a dark skinned teen. The victim for Trayvon is himself, a dark skinned teen.
Here’s what separates Tamar Boggs from Trayvon Martin.
It was daylight when the boys were on their bikes.
Two boys riding bikes in the summer heat do not need to wear hoodies to stay warm.
Tamar Boggs was one of 100 other first responders pursuing the safety of a child.
He was not a vigilante. He acted as a citizen and waited for the police to make decisions of authority.
Tamar Boggs was never charged with the crime of walking while black (WWB). George Zimmerman found Trayvon guilty of the crime of walking while black and otherness. That alone allowed his righteousness to fire his gun.
What I hope for Tamar is that he never, ever has to have the vile feeling of being looked at like a criminal. I hope he never has to feel the dirty feeling sent to him by others who see WWB as a crime. I imagine in another era, lanky Tamar would have been accused as the perpetrator just because of the color of his skin.
Oh Tamar, you have reminded me of everything good and right in this world. I hope the judge and jury in the Zimmerman case can do the same, but it isn’t Pennsylvania, it’s Florida.
The beauty of the Jocelyn Rojas case is: Jocelyn is safe. Tamar and his friend are heroes. And ugly racism never colored the outcome or the trigger finger of those involved. I don’t think Trayvon’s murder will be treated equally.
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