Racism.  Ugly word, but it is reality.  I love the USA, and I also hate it at times. The USA is looking at racism again now as a jury in the Trayvon Martin case acquitted the man who killed him (if you don’t know this case just search for Trayvon Martin).  I grew up in a very racially mixed neighborhood, and I found myself having pretty strong feelings about this decision. Mostly I felt angry, but I admit to not knowing everything about the case. I also feel strongly that there *should* be a lot amount of evidence to convict someone of a murder, so I don’t want to second guess the decision. My anger is just a gut instinctual feeling.

I had a conversation about this on fb with a friend who disagreed with my opinion, and I want to share part of it.  Here was our last exchange:


In general I agree with you entirely about emotive language being irresponsible. I’m not a journalist. I have a lot of emotions about this issue, because I grew up in a racially mixed neighborhood with a lot of black friends. Our neighborhood was economically comfortable, and had one of the most well integrated communities in the country at the time. It was also right next to east Cleveland, which was poor and not well integrated. I have had experiences that with another background could have led me to be a serious racist, including coming very close to having my brains blown out. But I am grateful for my history that has allowed me to see into a world that is not mine. 

I have also seen a huge amount of racial hatred and violence in other places around the world. It is never good, and it is often wrapped into the justice system in ways that are extremely difficult to remove. There were not enough witnesses to know what really happened in this case, but it makes me sad. 

I have seen a lot – more than most people. And I am 100% opposed to vigilante justice. I’ve seen the remnants of what happens when it gets out of control – like in Rwanda and other places. Yes – I get angry, and sometimes I need to express that anger. But in the end, I agree with you. The only way out of the situation in the long run is a difficult combination of education and forgiveness. It’s not easy, but a part of that is often letting people express their anger. 

I’m not a journalist. Just someone who has seen enough to keep him awake too many nights.


Indeed, I’ve read a lot of your posts and followed your travels. I’ve quite admired you from following them. That’s why I was a little surprised at some of your posts. Myself, I grew up in a part of London that was pretty dangerous, pretty violent, and have lived with the whole racism thing (although it’s different in America, I know). Where my OWN experience resonates with this story is from break ins in my own home over a period of years. At one time, the break ins were so bad I formed a Neighborhood Watch myself, to see if we could do something. The police were so ineffectual it seemed a last resort. One night I found myself confronted by a kid who was kicking the front door in, and I ended up chasing him down the street. Guns aren’t legal in the UK, but to be honest if I had one, in the state of mind I was in at the time (my girlfriend was terrified and at her wits end, having been raped at one point) I think I could well have shot him. His color would have been irrelevant. But I was at my wits end. And THIS is why I first of all have sympathy for Zimmerman’s story. Irregardless of what Trayvon Martin did or did not do, first of all I have some degree of sympathy for Zimmerman’s story.

You can read the entire conversation here: https://www.facebook.com/nelsong/posts/10103358822379900

Lately I have been working on applying for a Fulbright Fellowship, and I have been debating what country to apply for.  I have found myself drawn to South Africa.  This incident makes me want to spend some time there even more, because it is so directly applicable to our history in the US.

I want balance.  It is so hard.  I don’t know what more to say about it.  So I did this:

My feelings after the Trayvon Martin case
My feelings after the Trayvon Martin case