Trayvon Martin Slaying The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin slaying has many of us sick at heart. That this killing happened between 7-8 in the evening, not 2 in the morning, that no crime had been reported, that George Zimmerman had been told to “let it go,” that Trayvon Martin was 5’7” and weighed 145 pounds in contrast to George Zimmerman’s 200 pounds just makes the acquittal seem impossible to accept. The Stand Your Ground laws are so unacceptable.

The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin slaying has many of us sick at heart. That this killing happened between 7-8 in the evening, not 2 in the morning, that no crime had been reported, that George Zimmerman had been told to “let it go,” that Trayvon Martin was 5’7” and weighed 145 pounds in contrast to George Zimmerman’s 200 pounds just makes the acquittal seem impossible to accept. The Stand Your Ground laws are so unacceptable.
I appreciated President Obama’s words recently, referring to this case, trying to give both the perspective of the African-American minority defined inevitably by its history and the perspective of the majority. President Obama spoke of the need for conversation, real and honest interaction.
So many of us who do not consider ourselves racist act in racially-profiling ways. At a party several years ago one of my relatives mistook an African-American man named Richard for an African-American man, also named Richard whom she’d met earlier at my house. Richard 1 said, “I’ve never met you.”
My relative said, “Yes, remember at Sally’s sedir?”
“I’ve never been to Sally’s sedir,” Richard 1 said.
Later the relative joked of her embarrassment, saying, “How can you have two African-American friends named Richard?”
This example really resonated with me. In my church there is another blind woman. Occasionally, someone attributes her remarks to me. This other blind woman has a good singing voice. A visiting guest choir director asked me, “Do you also sing beautifully?”
I wish.
The lack of exposure to those of us in minorities makes people fall back on stereotypes and generalities. We see only the skin color or the disability, not the individuality.
Since 1970 I have been attending the Community of Reconciliation church. This church was formed in 1968 through the desire of several ministers, Dr. Harold Tolliver for one, to integrate the 11:00 hour on Sunday mornings, one of the most segregated times of the week. Three Presbyterian churches merged, 2 that were white, 1 that was black.
For 45 years the C.O.R., as it’s called, has been thriving, bringing black and white people together to worship once a week. But that hour or two on Sunday mornings expands to many more hours during the week of black and white interaction, to planning and working together to socializing and deepening friendships, friendships that have lasted for over forty years. The C.O.R. reaches out to the wider community, as do all churches and places of worship. But even if it had no social outreach at all, I would feel that its existence were a blessing, merely by giving the opportunity for regular conversation by diverse people. As someone with a disability, I think it is so important to break down fears and myths and barriers between groups.

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About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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