I never met the young man who was shot while wearing a hoodie and eating Skittles and now I never will. Normally, I would not write on such a hot and bubbling topic while everyone is in an uproar about it, but I think that the incident stands on its own two feet and demands attention. I have said it at least a thousand times, if we don't communicate, simply talk with each other and get to know one another, then tragedies such as what happened to this young man will continue to occur.
Certainly, there are arguments on both sides and beyond as to who is right and who is wrong and who is justified in their actions and who should never have acted at all, but at the end of the day, a young man is dead because of a lack of communication. I don't want to go on record as over-simplifying this issue and I truly feel that it is a defining moment. With that said, I want to put a little history out there for you to consider.
The history of the struggles against slavery, colonialism and imperialism reveals atrocities and massacres of people who in most cases were poorly armed and who just wanted their freedom. The vicious methods used to destroy the resistance against the Portuguese in Brazil, the Mau Mau struggle in Kenya, the rape of Dalit women in India and the massacre of the indigenous people in the Caribbean and the Americas are just a few examples. South Africa was a perfect example of legalized racism. Years of state violence against Africans, Indians and "Coloureds" in South Africa kept apartheid alive, and it has left a legacy of psychological and racial violence. A few years ago, members of a WCC solidarity team visited the Aboriginal people of Australia and they were exposed to stories and images, that still haunt them today, about the history and experiences of the Aboriginal people since the arrival of Europeans in Australia. In the 18th century, while the anthropologists and ethnographers studied the life-styles of the Aboriginal people, the "terra nullius" (empty land) policy and legal system refused to classify them as human beings. This did not officially change until 1967. The British Crown had applied a systematic colonization of the country, which included massacre, rape and dispossession of Aboriginal people with long-lasting effects of poverty, disease, exclusion and violence, which are visible today.
The use of violence as a method of control and domination of those who are deemed to be inferior and powerless is practiced in many cultures, societies and countries of the world. At the domestic level, it is used against women, children and other vulnerable members of the family. At the national and international level, poor people, asylum seekers, refugees, black and minority ethnic, migrant and indigenous people are occasionally subjected to, or threatened with, violence by the state and the institutions that uphold and perpetuate violence in the name of peace, order and national security. Any form of violence is harmful to the victim and has wider implications for society as a whole.
Through history until now, we, as a society, have used violence in many different forms, all in order to control something or somebody else for our own gain. I say that it is long past time to stop this foolishness. Using fear to get someone to respect you never works. You might get them to be afraid of you, but they will never respect you because you do not deserve respect. Let love be what you shoot out into the world, let a conversation take the place of a hard-hitting blow. Show your respect for the world and all the people in it by understanding that we all have a place in it. Wear a hoodie in memory of the young man and all of the people who have been killed because someone thought they weren't good enough to share space on this planet with them.