I saw The Hunger Games Friday afternoon, and it was good. Just good. But the part that got to me, of course, was when Rue was killed. When it happened, the first thing I thought was, She is Trayvon Martin. She was a child. She was hunted. She was hunted by aggressors much more powerful than she. She dies from a wound to the chest. In a society that allows the murder of its own children.
Then I read the racist reactions to Rue and her character’s death, which range frompeople either being angry that a black girl was playing someone “good” and “innocent” to people being not that sad over her death now that they understood she was black, which made it clear to me that other people were also making a connection between Rue and Trayvon, however subconsciously. Only instead of that reaction being “This is a child who was hunted and killed and that’s unacceptable,” it’s “Because this character is black, I care less about her death.”
What I’ve been stewing over for the last few weeks is exactly that, that there’s a sickening bottom line in this country, and it is simply that certain people’s lives are valued less than others. I don’t know how we continue on as a society knowing this. Because a society where mothers of black boys have to worry that when their children run out for candy, they might never come back–that society is broken. A society where the Muslim mother of five children could be beaten to death in her own bed where her killer left a note that reads “go back to your country, you terrorist” is a society that demands to be fixed. Every piece of legislation that criminalizes a person’s skin color–whether with regard to immigration or homeland security or law enforcement–needs to be challenged. Every cultural message that says one race is “less than” another needs to be checked. Is it a movie we’re watching about a dystopia that doesn’t give a shit about its disenfranchised or are we living it? The line for me has become increasingly blurred.
Here are a few links I’ve leaned on to try to make sense of it all:
How do you explain the killing of Trayvon Martin to your own son? Apology to My Brown Boy, by poet and mental health advocate Bassey Ikpi [Bassey’s World]
An insightful examination by a white man of how white privilege works: Whites Should be Suspicious about Trayvon Martin’s Death, by Christian minister Bob Bixby [Pensées]
On the different rules black men have to live by: Trayvon Martin, my son, and The Black Male Code, by AP national writer on race/ethnicity Jesse Washington [AP]
Tearing up the picture of the pope 2.0: An open letter on the killing of Trayvon Martin by Sinead O’Connor [Sinead O’Connor website]
When good is never good enough: No Apologies: On The Killing of Trayvon Martin And Being “Good,” by Danielle Belton, aka The Black Snob [The Black Snob]
Feel free to add more links related to this in the comments section below. And if you haven’t done so already, please join the other 2 million+ people who have signed this change.org petition to bring George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin’s killer, to justice.