Monday, July 26, 2010

I usually don't get into this but...

I usually don't get into things like this, but today I am fuming! Have yall heard of the 'barefoot bandit'? (White teen male who went on a 2 year crime spree that spanned the US and the Bahamas, maybe even Canada, I can't remember) The kid has tens of thousands of fans on facebook. (Really????) Young people all over the world were rooting for him to continue to evade arrest. The story is alluring, captivating and draws people in. Kids are idolizing him and living vicariously through him. Dude's even got an extensive Wikipedia page.

Let me back up... here's the reason I am fuming: while on our morning walk I was listening to NPR. There was an hour-long call in show dedicated to Colton Harris-Moore (the barefoot bandit.) Callers were hailing his crime spree as nothing more than a need for adventure, a challenge and an escape from his 'hard life.' Young and old alike were defending him, making him out to be a sweet kid who just needed a little more love and attention. Some agreed that he needed help, but the overarching theme was that he was a harmless thrill seeking child.

The article I linked to above quotes a woman who called him 'intelligent, polite, and friendly.' She even started collecting donations before he was ever caught to cover his legal fees and defense costs.... Is this outrageous to anyone else?

Ok, here's my question and the main reason I am so upset by all of this madness: Change NOTHING about this kid but the color of his skin...and do you think the reactions would be the same?

It's sad to say, but if he were of Middle Eastern descent, he would most likely be labeled a terrorist in training or something of the sort; if he were Hispanic, most likely he would be called 'illegal'; and if he were an African American teen, Lord knows he would most likely be suspected of unsolved murders, rapes and the like in every state where he had committed other crimes.

If you really look at this story, you can't tell me that racism is dead in our society! We think we have come so far, and pat ourselves on the back for all our efforts toward racial equality, but look at this??? Is this sickening to anyone else?

Almost surely 90% of teens (race aside) who commit crimes of any sort could be classified as needing attention, love and have probably come from less than ideal backgrounds, but lets say this kid was black, who in their right mind thinks the media would portray this side of him?

Instead they would use words more closely related to thug, gang-banger, violent, dangerous. You can bet your bottom dollar that you wouldn't be reading words like "smart, intelligent, and friendly" in a newspaper article about the African American teen who went on a 2 year crime spree.

This makes me sick. Maybe I am more sensitive to it because of some of this things we are talking about at church these days... but I was about to jump out of my skin as I was listening! If only I would have had my cell phone at the time I probably would have called and posed the question to them. "What if ONLY his skin color were different?" (actually, do you think the phone screener would have even put me through?)


Katie said...

I'm so glad you are asking this question. No matter how uncomfortable it might be, its a question that needs to be asked (not just of society, but of ourselves)if we are ever going to truly understand and deal with our prejudices.

Anonymous said...

You are so right, we've had that same conversation around here frequently. There was even a news show the other night, 3 white kids were vandalising a car in broad daylight in a public park for 3 hours (this was a news stunt to see if anyone did anything), one person called 911, all the others just walked by. But during the same time, same park, not part of the stunt, 3 black kids were sleeping , yes, sleeping in a car, and 911 was called 3x because people were afraid these kids were up to something. Yes, racism lives and it is very sad.


pgwheeler said...

Jamie, I feel the same way. I know one of the big controversies raging in NY is that about a Mosque being built close to the 9/11 site. If it was a Christian church or Jewish synagoge there would be no questions asked.
Our country was founded on freedom of religion and all people are created equal. We do a long way as yet to go as a country.
It is so good to see young people like you that see that and I hope will make a difference.