July 19, 2013

Skittles, Whole Foods and personal essays

I don't have anything worthwhile to add to the discussion surrounding the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the case of Trayvon Martin's death. It's a painful subject, and there are a multitude of opinions about the incident, the two people involved, and the outcome of the trial. Even Skittles is unsure how to react. 

However, Tuesday evening while I was eating at the cafe of my local Whole Foods, I noticed that every person in the seating area had turned his/her chair to face the television. I turned in my chair to see Anderson Cooper interviewing Juror B37 about the Zimmerman trial and the not-guilty verdict. No one spoke--my fellow diners were focused solely on the screen. Shoppers stopped on their way in and out of the store to hear snippets of this interview--shoppers who were male, female, black, white, Asian, Indian, young, old, etc. It's an oddly memorable moment in my mind, sitting there in Whole Foods, watching these people watch this interview.

To round out this post, just today I read this raw and honest essay by Questlove of the Roots, on why he thinks he and Trayvon Martin "ain't shit". Whether you agree or disagree with the facts of this particular case, consider how the verdict is viewed through the lens of an 300-pound black man with an afro. I've shared only part of the essay, the rest can be found here.

Questlove==SPIKE TV'S 2013 GUYS CHOICE AWARDS==Sony Studios, Culver City, CA==June 08, 2013.
Questlove: Trayvon Martin and I Ain’t Shit
The following essay is an adaptation of a Facebook post by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson in response to George Zimmerman's acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin. Questloveis the drummer for the Roots and the bandleader on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.

I'm trying not to internalize these feelings about the Trayvon Martin case and make it about me — but hey, it is what it is, and maybe I'm melodramatic. All I'm consumed with is my positioning in life.
I often tell cute, self-deprecating celebrity run-in stories that end with my own "pie in the face" moment. But rarely do I share stories of a more serious nature, another genre of "pie in the face" moments, mostly because in the age of social media, most people are quick to dismiss my tales as #FirstWorldProblems. But I can't tell you how many times a year I'm in a serious situation, only to hear the magic words "Oh, wait … Questlove?" Hey guys, it's Questlove. "We're so sorry, you can go!" Like, five to seven times a year, a night ending in the words "Thank God for that Afro or we'd never have recognized you" happens to me.
I'm in scenarios all the time in which primitive, exotic-looking me — six-foot-two, 300 pounds, uncivilized Afro, for starters — finds himself in places where people who look like me aren't normally found. I mean, what can I do? I have to be somewhere on Earth, correct? In the beginning — let's say 2002, when the gates of "Hey, Ahmir, would you like to come to [swanky elitist place]?" opened — I'd say "no," mostly because it's been hammered in my DNA to not "rock the boat," which means not making "certain people" feel uncomfortable.
I mean, that is a crazy way to live. Seriously, imagine a life in which you think of other people's safety and comfort first, before your own. You're programmed and taught that from the gate. It's like the opposite of entitlement.
The rest of the essay can be found here.