I am a 56 year old white man, whose father came from eastern European immigrants and whose mother came from the Confederate families of Virginia. I am married to an African American woman. I have a mixed race son of 17 years who I fear for every day.
On the day Trayvon Martin was murdered, my view of myself as a father was forever altered. This case and the subsequent verdict have underscored for me that this country has not yet moved beyond the racism used to justify the abhorrent institution of slavery. It is more insidious now, being hidden in code language and insinuation rather than explicit statement. Although I can never fully appreciate the experiences and fears of a black man, I now know the fear in the heart of every black father.
My goal is to keep the conversation about race going, with my son and anyone willing to have an open mind and heart; to make clear not all white men harbor these beliefs - that likely most of us wish to have fairness and justice to be independent of the color of one’s skin. I will write and talk about this to whoever will listen.
I will work as hard as I can to move against the NRA (who is mysteriously silent on this case), because it is my firm belief that this frightened little man, without the concealed gun, would never have escalated his actions to the point of confronting this teenager, must less shooting him dead.
I will work to see that “Stand Your Ground” initiatives fail wherever I can, because Trayvon Martin wasn’t afforded his right to stand his ground after being stalked and harassed by a strange adult; that Stand Your Ground is a license to kill - an instrument of oppression.
I fear for my country if we white men cannot overcome our silly fear of the future, one where a stacked deck doesn’t give us an unfair advantage. We are Americans goddammit, we don’t fear the future. I will not fear the future. I will embrace it.
This is my pledge.