Friday, June 28, 2013

My Mind is on Trayvon Martin

It's so obscene I can't even listen to the trial nor say the name of the murderer of young Trayvon Martin. I can't listen to the defense, see the old footage, listen to the replay of Trayvon fearful of this creep stalking him in the night as if he were prey.   It is angering. We're just a couple of generations after Jim Crow, remember, the time when young Black men could be viciously and violently killed for being Black BY LAW!! If this isn't the ugly face of the traitorous Confederacy slave states with their violent, ugly empire of Jim Crow Segregation again! That's what this reminds me of. If it's ok for a hateful, fearful, disturbed white predator of a  man given authority by the State to be a vigilante of his neighborhood, licensed to have a weapon to kill this young Black man full of promise for no reason, what is the difference. Trayvon used a WORD, "white Cracker"  to express a real fear that night, a white cracker stalking him  in a darkened street who means him harm. And we all know what that un-nameable fearful fiend filled with racial hatred used to express his fear because Trayvon Martin is dead, murdered, even though he called for help, even though the police knew.  If that is not angering enough, the defense of this ugly fiend proposes as a part of his defense that Trayvon used a "racist word -- cracker" and was in fact taught by his upbringing to use that word.  I CANNOT LISTEN TO THIS and not be angry.    Are parents supposed to teach their young men "Don't EVER call a white man a name or you might be killed?"  or "even if you are being stalked by white people who want to hurt you and kill you and erase you because of your Blackness, don't EVER call them cracker because they will kill you?"  Sounds like a lesson for the racist segregationist south enforced by crazy KKK vigilantes in the night out for blood -- like this sick fiend on trial. How is this a defense. Remember the "twinkie defense"?  There are satires out now about this Cracker Defense and I understand satire.  But I can't listen.  There is nothing about Trayvon Martin's death that I can be arm's length about.  Last night I left the room rather than listen to tv liberal pundits with their self-important voices, excited to yak about the racist stupidity coming out of the trial,  repeating repeating repeating each gem of outrageous stupidity,  pontificating the stupidity of it as if the tv audience were stupid and needed to hear something horrible over and over again to understand how fascinating their news analysis was.  I could not listen to the "entertainment factor" liberals get out of someone else's pain by enjoying to excess their clever words picking at another person's intellectual and moral flaws.

What's in a name.  I remember when Will and I were in Brooklyn, walking down a street of brownstones with neat front yards and iron fences.  An elderly Black Man stood watching us -- two Asian women from Idaho and a Hippy white guy -- walking through his neighborhood.  I smiled and he nailed me with a look of hatred which made me shrink and see what he saw.   I felt the stab of "Jap, Gook."  In racialized Amerika, though, like a knee jerks to a tap, I have a choice to pause and decide, " It is not about me.  It's about our history."   I even imagine that if I moved IN rather than be a tourist, over time, the gentleman might nod back when I smiled.   Why do I imagine?  Because that has been my experience in this racialized country.  The divide may always be there in the back of the mind, but it is shelved to make room for relationship.   Them's the rules for polite reasonable people in a racialized country.   The Difficulty of living together is not personal.  I am not oblivious about stores in the community run by Asians who do not live in the neighborhood and who are fearful of the Black community, un-trusting,  doing business which takes from the community and but never becoming part of it.   I have experienced the judgment of Asians too as third generation Asian myself.  Race festers.  And relationships are very hard to develop across the divide in this country.  So what do I think of the glare I received for a smile?  Is it wrong?  Is it right?  Neither.  It just is.  Welcome to Amerika.  That's one mind exercise we who live in Amerika can choose, learn learn learn, experience, experience, experience away the borders between us and build as much as one can.  Then there is the other, to take offense, to personalize, to be defensive, to be offensive, to take bad experiences and generalize from them, to accept hate and fear of the State and become a pawn of racist thought and stay stuck in the systems which invented Amerika, its foundations built on brutal taking of land from sea to shining sea and the slave labor to build it.   Breathing in the fear, division, violence and forming oneself into tools.  We have to make a choice every day.

Have I ever used racialized labels.  You bet.  All the time.  Every time, I feel weighed down by institutionalized racism, every time I see someone victimized by racism, every time I'm walking along minding my own business, thinking good thoughts and am slapped by racism by some White Cracker in what my girlfriend called our city (Eugene), Haku-Jin (White people)  Oregon where everything beautiful we have fashioned to address racist isolation to open and welcome everybody, and I mean everybody, has been easily disassembled by whimsy because it was not treasured enough -- a nationally renowned Indian Education Program, a remarkable school, Jefferson Institute of Multicultural and International Education,  an exemplary Human Rights Commission in the city, to name a few; and every time a person of color who has given of themselves from their experience and heart is thrown out as if worthless, or, the person themselves, dismissed through the personnel policy of the revolving door; and every young Black or Brown young person who is sacrificed for  white people in authority to learn anything, and for every sleight I've received as an Asian woman who is tribal because I am Asian, look Asian, am awoman, and follow tribal, You Bet!!  At the same time, do I seize every opportunity to choose differently?  Yes, yes, yes.    If I have to choose my prejudice over this beautiful person, this beautiful ideal, this beautiful project, this beautiful opportunity, this beautiful idea, this beautiful relationship, I will happily drop my prejudice with a grateful heart to all the beauty which crosses my path, and therefore defines my path.

I am reminded of what Margaret Cho said.  It really resonates.
"I wish I could be white for a couple of hours, you know, have a hobby,  go on a vacation, relax, get a manicure."

Which brings me back to young Trayvon, watch a movie, buy some Cheetos, go see a friend to hang out.   Just relax.  Hang out.  I wish he could have.  We are so much less for having lost such Promise.

And in an alternate universe, I envision that.  Just hanging out another summer day rising before him.  Growing, unstunted by racism, into manhood.  Completing college.  Maybe becoming a man who teaches children to become strong young men and women, fashioning his part of history with his own hands, adult hands, elder hands, leaving behind a legacy worthy of following.  That's what I will dream today for Trayvon Martin, a wish for the world that the blessings of such a young man could have blessed a road in front of many more like him. 


  1. I take things, such as the death of this young man, personally.

    I do not know GZ, nor did I know Trayvon, but I know children here where I live and am mindful when I speak with them.

    What occurred in the childhood of GZ that, as a man, he felt black skin equaled danger? What happened that left him thinking he, to prove himself a man, must carry a gun and stalk a boy? What was it that lead him to believe murder was within his right?

    His parents, TV, movies, the evening news, American history books?

    At some point, from from the vantage of 'adult man', GZ made the choice to believe the lies. He chose to believe that black skin equals danger and he chose to act on that belief.

    I take that personally

    In response, I am ever more mindful when I interact with youth, with any age, to challenge the lie, to offer a different view, to strive for a response of peace.

    I will never get it fully correct, but I will challenge myself to make the effort; for Trayvon and for the countless nameless children like him that died for a lie.

    1. JuLeah, one of my early adolescent teacher/students. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. My daughter Maki said "mom, do you realize how many of your students have become teachers?" (in her class on Facebook). I say, "they all are teachers." Remarkable wonderful adults. GZ is traumatized as every American must be, all in one country where it is taken for granted that a certain number of people must work for nothing and lead miserable lives, and a certain smaller number of people can profit from their pain, and people of certain physicality, event to whether they have a penis or not ('scuse me) or kind of job, or preference of whom they love don't get to have a doctor or food or home or education easukt -- basic human rights. It is sickness. Then they are given material material material and that is sold to them for profit. American life is sold all us "patsies" through fear tactics, and we are divided by hate, which is easy because part of the sickness we have is self-hatred. HOWEVER GZ has to be a fish that swims upstream against huge challenges to be determined not to fall for this stuff and to look the monster in the eye -- I know what you are and I am not afraid -- and live that way as you have done over and over again, Dear JuLeah, and raising Jasper to be a strong goodhearted unafraid woman with a voice, and a heart as big as the world which is a beautiful, wonderful place to live outside the Monster's Belly. Much love for you today, and so glad you raised up above the sacrifice so many tried to make of you for their sorry selves. BTW, Ruth was wondering and me to -- will you and Jasper be coming to Coming of Age? July 20 - 23? or August Ceremony -- the usual second weekend. Hugs to you both.


"from Outside the Belly" was also known as "TBAsian" from 2008-2010. Thank you for reading.

from Outside the Monster's Belly

from Outside the Monster's Belly
. . . following Earth instead (Rakaia River, site of Salmon Ceremony, photo credit Ruth Koenig)


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Eugene, Oregon
I am a citizen of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. I am a Nikkei descendant sansei (third generation);retired teacher, involved in the Winnemem tribal responsibility to Water, Salmon, and our belief that the Sacred is our Teacher. Working locally for human rights and supporting youth leadership.