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Member since: Sun Apr 29, 2007, 06:33 AM
Number of posts: 3,546

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Because I am not Trayvon, I had the privilege of taking a walk at 2am

I am female, 39, white latina living in Minnesota - about as far from Trayvon Martin as one can get.

I live 10 min north of Minneapolis and I am an insomniac. So around 2am most mornings, I walk our dogs - a german shepherd and a black lab mix. We live next to a very busy road, no sidewalks within a good .5 mile around us, so walking at night with no traffic is ideal - plus in the summer its cooler and our german shepherd is a little too excitable and there are lots of dogs that live around us. For the 10 plus yrs we have lived in our rented house, I have walked our dogs (first a collie mix, and two black lab mixes, then added the shepherd, and now the collie and elder black lab have passed away, so it just 2 dogs) in the middle of the night - anywhere between 10pm to 4am, and never gave it a second thought.

I have had many a police cruiser pass us by over the years, never once have I worried about being stopped. We have come across neighbors coming home late or outside their homes, and never worried that they would find us suspicious. I have worn a hoodie, bundled up in the winter, shorts in the summer - never worried my clothing would be deemed thuglike.

This behavior - walking around at night - is not new to me. I have always walked at night and never worried about my safety. In college and law school, I often had jobs that had late shifts or late nights trying to get my work done at the last minute and walking home in the dark never once bothered me. I walked home from bars, from parties, from work, from school - all the time and never worried about getting attacked or being thought of as suspicious or worried about being harassed by police.

Now, to be fair - I have not lived in the most crime-ridden areas - I went to college in Wisconsin, then transferred to Minnesota, went to law school in Des Moines and now live north of Minneapolis. But crime can and does happen everywhere and college campuses are not the safest place for a young woman to be wandering around drunk (which was me more than once). Don't worry, I know how stupid I was and the risks I took - my grandma lectured me often.

The only thing I really fear are bugs and small animals that jump out at me - toads are the worst in the summer. Please don't think I have lived a sheltered life. As a child, I was physically, emotionally and sexually abused. I think because I survived all that, it gave me a false sense of invincibility - I fought a lot as young girl and teen and to this day I am not one to back down from a physical altercation.

It never occurs to me when I am out wondering through the neighborhoods with my flashlight and plastic bag to clean up after a dog - that I might be considered a threat. Nor does it ever occur to me to be worried that someone is going to attack me (ok, the dogs help, but even without them I don't worry).

And you know what, no one - not me, not you, certainly not Trayvon - should ever have to worry about being attacked or gunned down for walking home. Race, age, manner of dress, location - none of that should matter.

This tragedy has so many lessons to be learned - and opens my eyes to things I take for granted - that I should be able to take for granted - that everyone has a right to take for granted. I hope that when this is no longer "news", we don't forget and we don't his death be just another statistic.

The power of "Why"

The word "why", though small, can be so powerful when used. Ask any parent of a small child how powerful the word "why" can be.

Many can instantly think of examples - had "why" been asked by the media, by ourselves, by our politicians - perhaps the war in Iraq would never have started, rather than now just ending after 9 years and thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars wasted.

"Why" was the start of learning about climate change - why are glaciers disappearing, global temperatures rising, and why are we experiencing such extreme weather phenomena.

"Why" is a central theme in the OWS - why is there such a huge gap between the 1% and the 99%, why do we bail out banks but not our neighbors, why is corporate welfare acceptable but not social welfare?

These examples I consider to be big "whys" - questions that effect us all, questions we all benefit from answering.

But there are little "whys" in my everyday life - some I ask all the time, some I don't ask enough.

This was recently brought to my attention by my wonderful husband during the barrage of holiday advertising that has managed to convince me that I *need* a Kindle.

My husband in IT, so he has every gadget imaginable - iPad, iPhone, laptops, desktops, iPods, flash drives, digital cameras... its like a little Best Buy in his office. I am more old school - yes I am writing this on a laptop - but I prefer books to ebooks, film to digital, CDs to downloads, and smart phones make my head hurt.

But suddenly, I started asking for a Kindle for Christmas. My husband, who was more than happy to get me one, just asked me one question "why". I started to get defensive - because I said, what's it to you. He said well, its just that you always said you never wanted one - you prefer paper books.

And I didn't have an answer - I realized I had gotten swept up in the consumerism I see around me daily. I am an educated woman who seriously thought I was more cynical to advertising - and that I was immune to such obvious ploys.

Not asking "why" - about big things, little things, personal things or worldview things - is lazy. Its easy to sit back and not ask "why do I believe what I do" or "why do I want what I want", I realized that those questions are answered for me who don't have my best interests at heart.

I need to do more asking - of myself and of others.

As this election cycle continues to rev up, spin out of control and threaten to divide DU even more - I hope before we start demanding others answer our "whys" - we can answer those "whys" ourselves first.
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