A Bridge Too Far

23 Mar

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  I am never, ever going to join the world of “The Twitter.”  I realize that it is one of the many forms of communication needed to stay in touch with one’s peeps, especially when one is a writer or an entertainer, but I cannot be trusted with the medium.  I’m 63 years old and I’ve finally gotten to a place of maturity where I no longer use my inside voice (pissy rage) in places or situations where only my outside voice (reasoned grace) should ever be heard.  Just in trying to explain why I wouldn’t engage with the little blue bird when it first emerged, I once commented to a group of my younger daughter’s friends (guys and gals), “I don’t tweet, I don’t twit, and I don’t “twat.”  (Apparently, in the world of twenty-something white kids, the words “tweet” and “twit” are fine, but the word “twat” is not to be used with one’s outside voice, which became very obvious when they all stared at me in horror, and my little vanilla bean daughter slid beneath the restaurant table to hide her mortification.)  Who knew? Image

But that is my point.  The Twitter may be legal and accessible, but it doesn’t mean that someone with my temperament and hot-headedness should ever tweet my thoughts because that would be going a bridge too far in my efforts to conquer my ability to “keep in touch.”

A case in point:  Last week a person whom I’ve known for years, and whom I used to call a friend, finally crossed over the line with me.  Through the years, I’ve put up with her taking me for granted, her Neanderthal husband’s racist comments to me, her verbal attack against me in front of a mutual friend rather than engaging me in private, and finally her public broadcast attack and lecture about a subject that was mine to hold an opinion about that she didn’t agree with but not hers to lecture me on as if I were a child.  All those years of trying to be “nicer than Jesus” with this person finally collided with my hurt and anger, and I realized that we hadn’t been friends for a very long time because she had trespassed on the relationship too many times to count. Had I had access to The Twitter when that revelation of trespassing on my heart hit the hurt and betrayal I felt, all hell would have broken loose because I would have opened up a can of “whup ass” that would have verbally beat the shit out of that woman and left her racist husband’s sorry ass to put her back together again.

See what I mean?!  I’m not to be trusted with the privilege of The Twitter or I’ll make Jesus cry, and I would really like to end up in Heaven when I die.   (To all my current friends and readers, please note: I’ve never knifed anybody in my life, except with my words, but the visual of me bitch-slapping somebody underscores why I need as many filters in place as possible to keep my mouth shut until I can calm down, and the appropriate contrite verbiage can be found, which ain’t ever gonna’ happen with an instantaneous access to The Twitter.  I know myself.)  I don’t think I’m the only one who should back away from access to The Twitter given what I read nowadays.  Most of the time, I hear all sorts of famous people screwing up over that thing.  Just ask the actress, Patricia Heaton (you know, of “Everybody Loves Raymond” fame?).  She ran off at the mouth on The Twitter against Sandra Fluke (a young woman from Georgetown University [G-Town]) who was testifying before Congress (you know, the one who Rush Limbaugh called a whore and a slut?).  Well, Ms. Heaton had to eat her Twitter account and come back with her tail between her legs and publicly apologize to Ms. Fluke for being such a self-righteous bitch!

Patricia Heaton’s Use of Her “Inside Voice” on Twitter/E-Online

Without access to Twitter, I thought and prayed about the incident I’d experienced with the ersatz “friend,” mulled over the history between the old girlfriend and myself, decided that that some relationships were never meant to go the distance of a lifetime, forgave her, and then let her go without fanfare or hyperbole.  Then I blocked her sorry ass from my Facebook page and went on my merry way.

2-year-old-Indonesian boy who smoked 40 cigarettes a day/Google News Image

There are other things that come under the umbrella of going a “bridge too far” besides The Twitter abuse.  Take the story of the children from Indonesia who can’t stop smoking.   They are addicted to cigarettes and smoke 25 – 40 of them a day.  Why?  Because there is no law that dictates an age limit to smoke in Indonesia.  If you can puff it, you can have it.  It doesn’t matter if the kid “becomes emotionally aggressive and uncontrollable and acts like he’s possessed by evil spirits,” according to an eight-year-olds father—it is still legal.  Half the Indonesian population lives on less than $2 a day, but cigarettes account for the second largest household expenditure in that country and it has the world’s highest percentage of young smokers according to Yahoo News.

Why is it “because we can,” we humans think we should?  Which brings me to the subject of “every mother’s son:”

17-year-old Trayvon Martin with his little brother who was recently gunned down by George Zimmerman, a vigilante self-appointed neighborhood watchman

You would have to have been living under a rock not to have heard about the egregious murder of the seventeen-year-old child that went out to buy Skittles and an iced tea in a gated community and never made it back to the home he was visiting with his father.  By all accounts Trayvon was a darling boy, a good student, and a football player who had never even gotten into a scuffle in his boyhood life.  As Trayvon walked home in the rain while talking to his sixteen-year-old girlfriend on his cell phone—armed with only a bag of Skittles and an iced tea—a paranoid, self-appointed (unofficial) neighborhood watchman followed him because he was black and wearing a hoodie which made him appear suspicious.  Somewhere in between the store and home, Trayvon noticed the stranger following him in a car.  The last thing that Trayvon’s girlfriend said to him was “run,” but Trayvon said he wouldn’t run (he knew better), but he would walk fast.  The last things neighbors heard were a child screaming for help and gunshots.

Trayvon’s body lay in the morgue for three days as a “John Doe” while his parents frantically searched for him.  Who goes out for candy and tea and doesn’t return?  His body was drug and alcohol tested by the police (he was clean) but the murderer was never tested, never investigated, and never asked to provide proof of his claim that he shot in self-defense.  Trayvon is dead but the murderer, as of this posting, has yet to be arrested because he pursued this child under the protection of two Florida laws:  The Right to Carry a Concealed Weapon and the Stand Your Ground law.

Some people think the murder of Trayvon was a hate crime (there is some confusion as to whether there was a racial epithet said to the 911 despatcher by Zimmerman just before he shot the son of the Martins) and some people think it was what my peeps like to call “Walking while Black.”*  My gut tells me that it is an extremely complex situation with both racial overtones and thoughtless gun laws that go a “bridge too far” for our volatile and fragile society.  We won’t know just what motivated Zimmerman until he can stop hiding behind the gun laws and be honestly investigated.  We do know that in Zimmerman’s zeal he had called the police department over 46 times to report “incidents” that never came to fruition.  But one thing is for sure, the murder of this child better be a “come to Jesus” moment for our nation and our love affair with guns, because next time it could be any mother’s child or grandchild, no matter what the race and no matter what the place.

President Obama’s comment today, March 23rd

“I can only imagine what these parents are going through,” Obama said. “And I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, and that everybody pulls together — federal, state and local — to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened.  If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids.”  The Washington Post

“Walking while Black:  A Cautionary Tale”

*I am discovering that “Walking while Black” is something that every black child used to learn at the knees of their parents or caretakers.  It means that you must always assume that most (not all) white people will think you’re up to no good when you walk through an all-white neighborhood, therefore, you must walk with hands exposed, a pleasant expression on your face (even if your dog just died), you mustn’t wear anything that obscures your features, you must answer every rude white person’s questions in a polite manner (even if what they ask is none of their goddamn business), and you must never, ever, ever run!   I’ve been married to my man, WW (“White and Wonderful”), for almost 33 years and because he has always made decent money, for years we lived in all white neighborhoods.  In the beginning of our marriage, I was a long-distance runner and, like clockwork, the white Po-Po (police) would stop me mid-run to find out what I was doing in the neighborhood I lived in.  So I started wearing make-up, pearls, and diamond tennis bracelets (it’s a wonder I wasn’t robbed every other day), and the latest fashionable jogging attire so that my persona screamed “I’m a corporate executive’s wife, so if you mess with me, you’ll have hell to pay.”  That worked for a while until I moved to a different location further south.

By the time I arrived in Virginia Beach, Virginia (a beach town with a church on every corner and a military pit stop), I was no longer a runner but did enjoy a morning constitutional of a brisk walk or two.  Out of concern for my safety, WW made me promise to only walk in our neighborhood and only with a couple of neighborhood women who had befriended me.  So three times a week for six months the ladies and I walked the same route (it never varied) through our neighborhood (at the same time), while wearing the same thing (jogging wear and a head wrap/scarf, full makeup and dripping with bling), and life was grand.  But one day both of the white ladies, whose husbands were in the military, had an event that required their attendance, so I went out alone to walk the same route, at the same time, in the same outfit I’d worn for six months.  Within ten minutes, a car with two white women in their fifties pulled up alongside me and the driver angrily demanded to know who I was, what I was doing in their neighborhood, and why were my hands in my pockets?  I started laughing because I thought they were joking.  “Ladies,” I said.  “You must be pulling my leg—haven’t you seen me pass your house every other day for six months?  I’m your neighbor for God’s sake!”   They did not think me humorous at all and as I looked up and down the empty street, I realized that if these women shot me, no one would believe that I had been minding my own business and was just out taking a walk.   As I “slowly” pulled my hands out of my pockets to show them that all I had was a Walkman and a couple of tissues, I’m not ashamed to say that I did a “Step-and-Fetch-it” (servile persona) routine with a toothy grin plastered from ear to ear as I said:  “Aw, shucks, Ma’am, you knows how it is with us womens of certain age—we’s gots to keep up our constitutionals or we’s will turn into little porkers, and we’s can’t have that, now cans we, girlfriend?”

The saner of the two women forced the angrier woman to move on as she shouted, “I’m watching you; I can tell you’re up to no good—you better not be here when I get back.”  I slowly walked the “one block” back to my home (forcing myself not to run)—back to my babies, my sweet, precious white husband, and I thought, “I must spoil the garden of racial equality that I’m raising my girls in and tell them what happened to me today.  I must tell them about what it means to be ‘Walking while Black.’  I must warn them.”  And I wept!

I didn’t end up teaching my children about “Walking while Black.”  I just couldn’t bring this evil fruit into their lives.  In fact I never told them this story because hope springs eternal, and WW and I decided to rear the children to be color-blind (which they gloriously are as adults today), but I often wonder if we blew it by not warning them of certain perils so that they wouldn’t be blind-sided.  Because I now have a grandson who looks the spitting image of Trayvon Martin at three-years-old, and I am concerned that that survival technique will not be passed on because I naively thought we were headed for a brave new world in America by now.  Maybe Trayvon thought, as my children still do, that color is irrelevant—heart and character are the defining motivators—and given that, he probably thought he would have had nothing to fear simply walking to get a bag of Skittles and an iced tea.

Author: E.L. Tomczyk

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Uncategorized


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34 responses to “A Bridge Too Far

  1. Maggie

    March 23, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Eleanor….. Brilliant as always!! I need to catch up on the past few posts, I have been so slammed with work I have fallen behind! This post made me cry, thinking about Trayvon and what his parents must be going through! And I remember some of your stories about the jogging incidents and others and remember feeling so angry and sad for you I will always be grateful to my mother for raising me “color blind”and protecting me from all my ” Texas” relatives and their racist jokes! I remember hearing a racist comment in high school and being dumbfounded and embarrassed about even being seen with the person it came from. I lived in a place where the Hispanics outnumbered the “gringos” two to one, but I never much thought about it. I know I was sheltered from what was happening across the world, but I wasn’t stupid either ! I found out soon enough about the ugliness of hating someone just because of the color of their skin. And I have been accused of being racist at one point in my life and it hurt me and infuriated me at the same time. That person is no longer in my life! So thank you for your “naked”honesty in writing about your life experiences! And I am not a “twittee” either!! FB is hard enough! Love you, Maggie

    • etomczyk

      March 24, 2012 at 7:13 am

      Maggie. Your comment is beautifully written and I really appreciate it. One of the reasons my children are color-blind is because of the love our families share for each other and the relationship “the cousins” have. I actually think that the killing of Trayvon is much more complicated than racial bias. It’s more about fear, out of control NRA lobbyists, a “poser” trying to prove something, a biased police department that didn’t properly do their job, and the lack of cohesion as a country (being a “united” states, rather than a “we” and a “they” country). What is beginning to unfold in this area of Florida is how the “self-defense” killings have grown exponentially since the passing of the “Stand your Ground” law which was initially passed to provide a more balanced “Defending your castle” law, which I get by the way. I am not a gun person (I couldn’t be trusted with one, much like “The Twitter”), but if someone invaded my house to harm my family, I’d become Annie Oakley in a heartbeat! But the Stand Your Ground law seems to have gotten out of control, but the NRA will never admit that because they’ve been trying to push that law throughout all 50 states. By all reportings, Zimmerman stalked Trayvon even after the 911 dispatcher told him not to follow and to wait for the police. I’m sure if there was a scuffle, it was because the kid was fighting for his life, as I would have done if those two women in the car had come any closer to me.

      Also, I’m no fool and understand that every person coming toward me on a street is not as innocent as Trayvon and that there are bad people who come in every shape, form, and fashion who may wish to do me harm. But if we profile each other to such a degree (my “profiling” fear is a pick-up truck bearing a confederate flag with a gun rack across the back) that all we feel is fear and not love, we might as well kiss our country good-bye. All the best. ET

  2. talesfromthemotherland

    March 24, 2012 at 2:04 am

    Eleanor, another beautiful, powerful piece by one of my favorite bloggers. I cry with you over the murder of Trayvon. It is nothing short of murder, when a child is gunned down, under any of these circumstances… it is vile and horrible to consider, but that much more painful that you must even consider this for your grandson. I said to a friend today: “We should all feel ashamed, that this happened to any other mother and father in our society.” I too am not naive, though I obviously have not had to worry about walking black. Raising Jewish children however, I can’t begin to tell you the poisonous things that have been said to my children… as white as they are. The fact that they are Jews, trumps that. Until we can all truly see each other as individuals, we all suffer as a whole.

    As for tweeting… I fear that I too would be a bad candidate. I have limited filters, I have a quick temper and saucy mouth (to be kind) and God knows what might come out. Tonight, I fired off a pointed (gently put) response to some family members who twisted a recent post and put up some very hurtful things about me. I had, like you with your former friend, been slipping around icebergs for years and sugar coating, only to be thrown under a big, fat bus, the minute the didn’t agree with something, or misunderstood a point. I waited a week, to respond… but after seeing a post from them tonight, I fired off a much angrier email, than I might have. Like drunk texting/dialing, I’m so glad I didn’t have tweet, to add fuel to this fire. We speak the same language E, and I’m glad there’s writers like you out there, speaking for many of us. Bravo!

    • etomczyk

      March 24, 2012 at 7:42 am

      Dawn, I always love your comments. There are some of my readers that I feel as if I met them tomorrow over coffee, we would become friends forever–able to talk for days and never run out of things to discuss. I have Jewish friends who have told me the same things you said about the poison that has been spewed against them and their children. Did you ever see the musical “Avenue Q”? There is a song in it that is titled, “We’re All a Little Bit Racist.” The song is funny as hell but sooooo true. It is sung by an Asian character and by the time she finishes, every race has been exposed for the way we profile each other. Second only to the song, “It Sucks to be Me,” it is my favorite song in the entire musical.

      The only answer that I’ve found for this curse of racism is to “fall in love” with people who are different than ourselves because I’ve found it shows us that we’re more alike than we are different. The more we genuinely know someone of another race or sexual persuasion (remember that sweet child, Matthew Shepherd, beaten and tied to a fence in Wyoming who was left to die because he was gay?), the less likely we are to smear an entire people group with the negative perspective that we have of a few. Thanks for stopping by and may the “Force be with you” regarding the relatives! 🙂

  3. momshieb

    March 24, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Wonderful post; I share your rage and sorrow and fear for this country. I can’t get Trayvon and his family out of my head, and I feel both helpless and guilty, knowing that the whole push for rational gun control has disappeared out there.
    Its past time to demand gun control, sane laws, an end to vigilantism and way more controls on the police.
    I’m a white mother of three activist kids, two of whom are males over six feet tall who wear their curly hair nearly shaved. They have been stopped by police many times for walking, for sitting on the steps of the house that they rent, and for “looking like trouble” in a public park.
    Personally, I think you should be out there on Twitter (not that I am…..) because what this country needs is more outraged and honest people to stand up and yell “ENOUGH” at the racist, gun toting, ignorant mob that we are becoming.

    • etomczyk

      March 24, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      Momshieb: Thank you so much for your heartfelt comments. I loved the lines about your kids. They are the new Hippies, in the sense that they are being judged for their appearance and not what is in their hearts. It is so crazy that every generation has to put up with this type of torment. I sure appreciate you stopping by and absolutely loved your blog on your 5th graders shinanigans, your discipline, and their response. Cheers!

  4. imagesbytdashfield

    March 24, 2012 at 10:26 am

    I did not even begin to imagine that you were WWBWH – walking while black wearing a hoodie! (Ok so it was a head wrap – same diff) GASP! I must keep an eye on you 😉 Yes, racism has not died it just moved around, hid behind newer laws, changed clothing a bit, and kept it on the low. But it is still very much alive. Oh and lest we forget – stupidity never went away and is still fat and thriving foaming at the mouth from everyday Joes all the way up to media and political pundits and any and every point in between.

    I tried twitter for awhile but I just cannot see the logic (if that word may be applied) to it and I’ll be darned if I am going to post snippets of “T has checked in at Starbucks” etc. If I want you to know where I am I will tell you not you and heaven knows how many other people! True story here – once in a LV store I noticed this one guard (Black) kept hovering nearby no matter where DH and I walked in the store. I turned it into a game! I would tell DH lets go to this part of store and count to 10 and see if his behind doesn’t show up. He did! And this was while I was carrying a LV purse!!! Guess he thought it was a knock off – NOT! And what was really hysterical is when we walked out this one Asian woman ran after me out of the LV store to ask me where did I get my purse in she wanted on like it. She went back in and was pointing madly out the door at me standing there with a smug smile on my face while they went to see if they had said purse in stock.

    Ok, I’m getting warm now and need to slow my roll. Yes, we all can be/are a little bit racist, it’s when that little goes buck wild that it can be terrifying. I pray for justice in the Martin case and peace for his parents and that senseless crap like this stops everywhere.

    On a funnier note – you do know what “twat” is a old name for don’t you???? Your poor child was mortified! LOL

    • etomczyk

      March 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm

      TD: WWBWH — you’re killin’ me! 🙂 Thanks so much for your fabulous comments. I love the story about the LV purse (now those are initials I have no problem discerning). WW and I like to mess with people’s minds like that, as well. We’ll both go to a jewelry counter–one at each end–to see who the sales person will wait on first and who she will ignore: 9 times out of 10, he gets waited on first. Gotta love humanity!

      On a funnier note, I didn’t know what “twat” meant before I used it, but Baby-Girl has not let me live it down since that incident. Her friends are still laughing. All the best. ET

      • imagesbytdashfield

        March 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm

        Just as long as you know what it means now and well…use it (or not) appropriately LOL

  5. debbie

    March 24, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    I live here in Florida, and I believe lots of the evidence against the shooter was lost by police when they blindly believed the story he told. Trayvon was also not properly processed by police, so it will be very difficult to find enough evidence to convict the shooter. And as we speak the police are allowing the shooter to destroy the evidence that is still around. Travesty …thats what it is. RIP Trayvon we got this!

    • etomczyk

      March 24, 2012 at 2:29 pm

      Hi Debbie. Thanks for stopping by. I am so afraid that you are right about the evidence and that Zimmerman will get away with this. God help us all if he does. I’m reading that this department is rife with sweeping this type of evidence under the carpet. No wonder the city council had a vote of “no confidence” for the police chief. My heart aches for the parents. All the best. ET

  6. Sondra Smith

    March 24, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    To arm me with Twitter would be a dangerous thing too. I would tweet first and regret later!

    We are all guilty of prejudice it is always lurking. I used to think it was because of a lack of understanding a lack of tolerance but I have begun to understand that it is a human flaw that we all have.

    If we are honest we will admit that in our thoughts however fleeting we make judgements, presumptions about everyone around us, whether they are negative or positive. Taking those thoughts into captivity is a leaned discipline and I fall short everyday.

    This tragedy is nothing new, how many people have been killed because their only crime was who they were. Your words bring the light to darkness the hope that maybe one day we will learn not to judge.
    Well done Eleanor!

    • etomczyk

      March 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm

      Sondra: Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such a wonderfully heartfelt comment. Thanks also for posting the link on your Facebook. That was so kind.

      I think this situation with the death of Trayvon is a teachable moment for our Nation, and if we take it to heart, it could mean a great deal for our future.

      Chat with you soon. Love to you, E

  7. nonnie9999

    March 25, 2012 at 1:18 am

    not only can i not be trusted with something like twitter, i have to keep my enter key in the other room so that i have to think about what i’ve said on various blogs on the internets.

    as to trayvon, my heart is broken. i remember when that disgraceful ‘stand your ground’ law was introduced and how all reasonable people could see what was bound to happen if it was passed and signed into law. as far as i’m concerned, every florida legislator who voted for that law and jeb bush, who signed it into law while singing its praises, have trayvon’s precious blood on their hands. floriduhhh used to be a decent place to live. i barely recognize it now.

    • etomczyk

      March 25, 2012 at 8:19 am

      Nonnie–You and me both about the “enter key” location in the other room. The easy access of email is bad enough.

      I had never heard about that Stand Your Ground law until this recent incident with Trayvon. I just hope this law is not so air tight that Zimmerman literally gets away with murder. That would be just awful. Since this happened over a month ago, it looks as if Zimmerman almost squeaked by. Thank God for the “liberal media” that certain Repubs are afraid of or this story may have never come to light on the national level and sparked the outrage of every good and sane person in our country. And to think the NRA is aggressively lobbying to pass this law in all 50 states. If we can’t control our anger over Twitter, in online comments, or emails, can you imagine what a Wild, Wild West our country will become with every citizen being allowed to shoot first and claim self-defense second? God help us!

  8. notquiteold

    March 25, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Holy shit, Eleanor. What a story! My husband doesn’t seem to understand – he thinks suspicion is NORMAL. I’m going to read him your story. He’s shown me before that he can be open-minded – and your experience can help make a difference. Thanks for writing this.

    • etomczyk

      March 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm

      Thanks Nancy. I think your hubbie is right that suspicion is normal if there is fear involved. Children aren’t suspicious by nature unless they get hurt. When we get to know others outside our “normal” environment–truly get to know and love them as people–that suspicion falls away. If we stay isolated and fearful, then suspicion is a sure thing.

      Let me know your hubbie’s response. Take care. ET

      • notquiteold

        March 25, 2012 at 8:44 pm

        I told him your story, and he said, “That’s just not fair.” Yea for common sense!

      • etomczyk

        March 25, 2012 at 8:51 pm

        Nancy: Excellent! 🙂

  9. aFrankAngle

    March 26, 2012 at 8:11 am

    1) Tweet-twit-twat cracked me

    2) Good for you for knowing how you could misuse Twitter.

    3) No Palin in this one! (The pledge must be working)

    4) Most importantly, simply thanks for sharing your life experiences because this is one very important.

    • etomczyk

      March 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      1) Baby-girl still won’t let me live the Tweet-twit-twat comment down
      2) You know me well enough now to know that I would abuse “The Twitter”
      3) I almost blamed either the smoking Indonesian children or the lack of the snow this year on Palin, but I could hear your voice in my head (how I imagine you sound)
      4) Thank you!


      • aFrankAngle

        March 26, 2012 at 8:55 pm

        PS: I wished WW and you lived in our neighborhood.

      • etomczyk

        March 27, 2012 at 5:58 am

        Frank. I’ve had that thought about you and Mrs. A. several times. You both seem so delightful. If WW and I ever get to your area during our many adventures, we’ll definitely contact you and Mrs. A and the invitation extends this way, for sure. 🙂

      • aFrankAngle

        March 27, 2012 at 6:09 am

        🙂 …. pssst …. I posted about the Pompeii exhibit.

  10. notquiteold

    March 26, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Here’s another small win for open-mindedness. My husband confessed that a black kid in a hoodie is scary to him. “Like he doesn’t want his face to be recognized.”
    I said, “Well, what if it was raining?”
    Him: “It was raining? I didn’t know it was raining that night. He could have been just trying to stay dry.”
    That’s why I love him despite his ‘issues’. He can actually THINK. Sometimes even change his mind.

    • etomczyk

      March 26, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      Tell Hubbie, the hoodie hidding the face is a “teenager” thing, as well. It’s like what I had to drill into my girls when they were teens: “Look every adult in the eyes, smile, answer in succinct sentences, offer a firm handshake, etc.” They would all (male and female, black, white, Hispanic, and Asian, etc/) rather hide their faces because they are so full of angst at various times of that teenage journey.

      It does sound like you have a good guy. Being able to hear, think, and change–that’s the best we can ask for, and that is pretty good! Cheers. ET

      • An Observant Mind

        March 31, 2012 at 2:55 am

        I have to say, a kid should be able to cover his face with a hoodie without fear of being thought of as a potential crimminal. I really think that is a culture thing.

        Even hearing you say your husband thinks he may ‘not want to be recognized’ has to be something that is assumed or learned from movies or news reports, whatever.

        Given we live in a different culture over here where ‘black’ is not associated with crime or gangs or anything of that nature, it wouldn’t even occur to me to think that way. I’m not saying its wrong that he feels that way, but rather than it is a learned feeling – so ingrained in the culture that he may not even realize it. Food for thought?

  11. becomingcliche

    March 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I did not hear about Trayvon until about a week after his murder. I am sick at my stomach. I don’t understand why the man who shot him has not been arrested. Neighborhood watch should never be considered the same thing as vigilante “justice.”

    • etomczyk

      March 26, 2012 at 5:03 pm

      BC: Actually, I didn’t hear about it until two weeks after. I think the entire thing would have been swept under the rug if it hadn’t been for a reporter at The Grio.

      Apparently, the shooter hasn’t been arrested because he can hide under the self-defense law until it is proven that he wasn’t acting in self-defense. He got a broken noise in the scuffle and soome scratches on his neck and he is using that as evidence of self-defense. I have always told my children that if they are ever grabbed or jumped and they think someone is trying to kidnap or rape them (remember, the guy never identified himself to Trayvon acccording to the dispatcher who kept telling the shooter not to pursue), I’ve told my kids to bite, kick, gouge eyes, break noses–anything–because once the stalker puts you in his car, you are not guaranteed to survive. I can easily see why this kid, who kept telling his girlfriend on the phone that some strange man was following him, would fight for his life.

  12. An Observant Mind

    March 31, 2012 at 2:50 am

    There was so much about this piece that I loved(and hated) starting with the ‘twat’ issue which had me in stitches! I can only imagine your daughters mortification and loved it! 😉

    I loved, loved, loved your reference to being ‘color blind.’ I have been ‘color blind’ all of my life, but I did not know it, because until I got my US life-education I didn’t know that there was such an affliction!

    Color was just never a consideration for me, people were PEOPLE. I moved to CO from Aus, and it remained that way, except for a few things noted (white supremacy, slavery) that I thought were in the HISTORY of America, and part of a tragic education on ‘the way things were’. Still I was ‘blind.’

    It all came to a grinding halt when our family moved to TX for 1 1/2 educational years. I say that with all the sarcasm you can imagine. We moved into a home on 2 acres and as my husband went off to work it was my job to find someone to mow our two acres. I called a gentleman’s ad in the paper and he arrived to quote me my job.

    I opened my door to a lovely smiling older man and stuck out my hand and introduced myself. He backed away and looked confused…startled even. He said words that are burned into my memory for a lifetime “Uh… Ma’am, folks ’round here don’t shake my hand.” (White gated neighborhood much like the one you are describing I suspect). I could not have been more stunned if he had told me slavery was in full operation in Texas and he was for sale.

    I had been in the state less than 48 hours and I already hated it based on this information alone. “WTF do you mean people don’t SHAKE YOUR HANDS?? my mind screamed out. “Who the hell are these people? I don’t want to raise my son like this!!!” My response was a lot more dignified and put-together. I stepped out of my doorway to him on the porch and said “Oh well, I guess we’ll hug then.” And gave him a great old bear hug. His laughter was music.(though he probably thought I was a little insane!)

    Needless to say I hired him, and not surprisingly we became wonderful friends. He had a depth of knowledge about so many things, taught me so much about America, the south and TX, and did it all – always – with a smile on his face (now Ive read this I wonder if it was the ‘dont look suspicious smile’ I hope not!)

    It saddens me to hear of your accounts, I can’t imagine feeling so violated in my own neighborhood and don’t know how I wouldn’t hate those people forever. Bigotry is a sickness that eats away at those who express it and though the mire might be spwed out onto you when you encounter it, thankfully it can never stick – it has no where to go but by the wayside, a mere reflection of thier ignorance and stupidity.

    The Treyvon situation is so tragic, most of all for the poor family who is suffering so much and were so innocent, but perhaps in some ways even more so for the nation – the nation that declares itself – “the greatest country in the world” and yet, doesn’t protect it citizens, and still fosters an environment where someone like Zimmerman can become some kind of self-imposed security force and get off without (what seems like) a fair and just amount of research and investigation into the situation.

    I don’t know all the answers, but I know that guns are not the answer. The average citizen cannot own a gun in Australia – save for farmers shotguns etc. And we are not without violent crime, but as my (American) husband comments regularly when he watches the news “All I know is I can run form a knife – if I can outrun him, I have a fighting chance – and that’s not the case with a gun.”

    The fact that a sweet teenage boy with his ice tea and skittles could be gunned down in the middle of a suburban community because he “looked suspicious” – lets face it that means he was black – is a situation that should make the whole country sit up and take note. Something is very, very wrong with the culture. How long will it take for the country to become (as you say) ‘color blind? How long until your skin colour makes no difference? Until people no longer approach you ‘differently’ than they would a white-skinned person?

    To me, until that day comes, the ‘greatest country in the world’ title cant possibly go to America. I’m sorry, it doesn’t even come close to qualifying.

    • etomczyk

      March 31, 2012 at 7:31 am

      Karyn: I loved your comment. Have you ever though of writing a short story about your friendship with the Texan? It’s lovely.

      I actually don’t think America will ever become completely color blind and neither will any other country. It is not in the nature of the human heart. Racism is, simply put, disdain and contempt for another human being who is different, and it is a heart issue because when we engage in it, we elevate ourselves to a superior position while demoting another to an inferior postion which really comes down to the issue of pride and power. Because of this I think all humans are a “little bit racist” as the song from Avenue Q says. I would love to have you write a blog about Australia’s white and Aborigine relationships from the perspective of assimilation and acceptance. I would suspect that there might be similarities of historical hurt, abuse, poverty, crime, and stereotypes that Australians have to wrestle with and constantly work to overcome.

      We have gotten a lot better in America regarding racism and things have changed considerably. You know how I know this? 50 years ago, Trayvon would have been murdered and no one would have said a word except his relatives and they would have been drowned out by the silence of the complicit. Today millions of people across America have signed a petition on Trayvon’s behalf to bring his murderer to justice. We Americans are becoming more humane as each decade passes. We will always walk with a slight limp from our history of slavery and Jim Crow laws, but more and more of us are beginning to walk holding onto each other’s hands, and that is a very good thing–very good, indeed.

      All the best, my Australian friend.

  13. Lindy Lee

    April 3, 2012 at 1:07 am

    Emmitt Till (14) Mississippi 1955
    Trayvon Martin (17) Florida 2012

    Disappointed, flabbergasted, infuriated, numb, helpless, etc., etc., etc…

    • etomczyk

      April 3, 2012 at 6:58 pm

      Lindy Lee: Have you thought of writing a poem on Emmitt Till and Trayvon Martin?

  14. Lindy Lee

    April 3, 2012 at 1:08 am

    Bigotry is the father of injustice…


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