Written by Mark Ford
I don’t know who Josh Myers is, but he posted the excerpt below on his Facebook page, which was then forwarded on to me by Robert DeJournett, the Chairman of Love Akron’s Board of Directors. In light of last week’s Ford’s Focus, I felt Josh’s posting was relevant and fit to a “T” some of what I was trying to convey. If you didn’t get a chance to read my blog post, A National Tragedy, you can still check it out on our website,www.loveakron.org. My main point was that the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman case is an opportunity for all of us to think deeply about race, civility and other cultural issues tied to this unfortunate incident. Now, on to Josh’s posting.
“Yesterday, as I locked my car to run into a gas station to get a drink I noticed a young black man in the car next to me, window down, not appearing to be very friendly. I always lock my car regardless of where I go or who I’m around. Needless to say in the wake of the Trayvon Martin murder it got me thinking, “Did that innocent black kid in the car next to me feel like I locked my doors because of him?” I wondered how it must feel to be profiled on a regular basis. I’ve done it myself, I KNOW it happens. In the same return I thought, “I wonder if he thinks I’m just like every other white fellow that’s paranoid of black people?” As I went inside I thought what I could do personally to help break these ridiculous stereotypes down. Then, it hit me. I was thirsty. Needless to say I walked out with two drinks instead of one. I walked to the car, turned around and said, “Man, it’s hot out here, I bought you a drink too!” The air was thick, and then he smiled and said, “Thanks, I was out here dying with no AC. No one has ever done that for me before!” We shook hands and exchanged a “Have a great day!” and I was on my merry way. I said all that to say, what can you do today to help tear down divisions in this world we all share? We gotta start somewhere. Start now; be present and aware of your surroundings. Maybe if we put as much thought into breaking down walls as we do how we could escape a scenario, shoot someone, defend ourselves etc. we could make the world a better place.”
After I read Josh’s thoughts on Wednesday, I began to ask myself what kind of non-verbal messages I communicate to people who are not in “my world.” Suspicion and pre-judging is not limited to race but also to gender, economic status and yes, age. The story I am about to relate is coming from my perspective so others who were part of the scenario would perhaps see it differently.