Saturday, March 31, 2012


I offended several people this week on Facebook posting about the shooting of Trayvon Martin. One nutjob on the Norman Goldman page accused me and my "ilk" of "hating whitey," which is funny considering I'm a bald, middle aged, nearsighted white male.

I also offended several progressives by speculating about the missing minute or less when Trayvon was confronted by Zimmerman and shot. From my own experience, I've been hit, kicked and punched by teenagers from tough backgrounds while working in urban schools and walking at night. I speculated that Trayvon could have been instructed, like so many students have told me when defending their actions, that"my mama says if anyone messes with me-hit'em."

When a kid is walking along the street talking on a phone armed with a bag of Skittles and iced tea and ends up dead, clearly something unjust has occured. Was the shooting a hate crime, an accidental blunder, or something in between? Was Trayvon the one "standing his ground?" There is no question that Mr. Zimmerman is guilty of stalking, shooting and killing an innocent teenager, but the exact nature of his guilt and this tragedy is not clear. Unfortunately, as various parties try to influence the media circus covering the story, it won't be clear for months to come-if ever.

Friday, March 30, 2012


During my 2 1/2 hour struggle to get my five kids to school on time, I'm usually joined by Justin and Jessica, a brother and sister from next door who go to our neighborhood elementary school. Both their parents work mornings, so they hang out for 20 minutes talking and eating dry breakfast cereal on days when we have something sugary, the we walk to school together. This morning Justin announced, "She thinks you're black."


Jessica asked, "Aren't you black? I know your wife is white and I thought you were black."

Now comes the awkward part. I love to joke and tease, and several responses ran through my head. I thought of repeating TV's Gary Coleman's phrase "Whatchu talkin' 'bout?" I remembered Dick Gregory referring to white people's "skinny little nostrils" and considered drawing attention to my own. I considered clapping my hands and swaggering like a favorite former student with autism who had a style of walking that my African American assistant referred to as "pimpin'." I even though of saying "why thank you!"

Instead my 5 second delay allowed me to say "Gollly!" in an exaggerated 1950s voice. So what pops up in my head when I think of black people? A combination of stereotypes, physical attributes, and struggle to maintain proper racial etiquette: DON'T SAY ANYTHING STUPID, STUPID!!!