Don’t Dress Like a Cholo and Other Things

It’s hard to ignore the slaying of Trayvon Martin. It’s all over the news in every city in America. That the internet and the 24 hour news cycle has made the world smaller is sometimes a good thing. It won’t bring this child back, but perhaps it will spare others.

There was this perfect storm of gun laws and racism that conspired to kill Trayvon. As both a parent and a handgun owner I am disturbed. Florida allows citizens to use deadly force if they reasonably believe they face harm. My understanding is that in California you can use deadly force inside your home. I can’t shoot you on my front lawn… even if… even if… I might be wrong, I’m not a lawyer and I’m also not planning on shooting anyone on my front lawn. In Los Angeles you cannot walk down the street armed without a permit. This is a good thing. We don’t have to fend off hungry bears here.

When I learned to drive my parents taught me the rules of the road and my father taught me the rules of getting pulled over. “Keep your hands on the wheel.” He said, “Don’t be cute and don’t be clever. Take your ticket and say, ‘yes sir, no sir’.” He reminded me that because we were white kids we could drive through places like Beverly Hills and told us about people who were routinely incarcerated during traffic stops, their blackness scared the police. This was all during the reign of Daryl F. Gates, not our city’s finest years.

When we were teens my brother drove a Dodge Dart. He loved that car, it had three on the tree and not much of a starter. It leaked oil onto the cobblestone streets of my mother’s gated community and I’m pretty sure that leak made him love it just a little more. My brother also has black hair and like everyone in the family drives a little too fast. He was late for school one morning and got pulled over on PCH. After issuing the ticket and noting the Bel Air address the officer told my teenage brother that if he didn’t want to get pulled over he should stop looking like a Cholo.

A ticket is nothing. Really.

Something has to change and I suspect it will. I’m an optimist about this because I don’t believe that I live in a country where we go around shooting kids. I won’t believe that.

Worldwide there’s an epidemic of hate and there’s been a massacre in Toulouse. A woman has lost her husband and her two sons to a madman’s bullets. There’s always the sense that “they’d” like to get the Jews. I don’t know who “they” is but they’re always shooting at our kids and our husbands. I wish they’d stop.

I think we’re all culpable though. We talk about bullies and fairness and toss around buzzwords that make you feel like you’ve done something. I’m not seeing people really stand up and say, “It’s never okay to dehumanize another group.”

There’s nothing inherently threatening about a 17 year old black person. Not unless someone told you there is.

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Comments 15

  1. My son has “darker” skin (he is half Pakistani) and drove a red sports car, he was pulled over almost nightly in Glendale and Burbank.  

  2. “I think we’re all culpable though. We talk about bullies and fairness and toss around buzzwords that make you feel like you’ve done something.” <– THIS. 

    I want to hold your hand and roller skate with you during 'Couples Only' for holding this mirror up. 

  3. I find that the times where I group other people and dehumanize them are the times when I feel crappy about myself. Then blaming others just sneaks in as a way to avoid my own crappiness.

  4. Toulouse drives me crazy. That man chased a 7 year-old girl into the school, grabbed her by the hair and shot her. Sorry, as a father with kids in day school it hits even harder.

    To be clear, I think there are far more good people than bad. I believe in the inherent “goodness” of people and think that stupidity causes more deaths than we should see.

    I don’t disagree that we need to hold ourselves accountable and take a hard look at what we say and what we do. I really don’t understand what happened with Trayvon but I hope justice is served.

    BTW, Dodge Darts were/are fun. My first car was a ’69 Dodge Dart Swinger. It had a slant 6 and was really just a hunk of metal around an engine.

    1.  OMG! I did not hear the part about that man chasing a little girl into a school and shooting her that way. I only heard that he shot 3 children.  That is the most foul, evil thing I have ever heard. There is a special level of Hell for people like that and I hope he is burning in it now.

  5. A couple of years back, my brother-in-law was driving in Huntington Beach. At the time he lived in Westminster with his parents but needed to go to HB for something. It was nighttime. He was driving a newer SUV. He was pulled over by HBPD and asked what he was doing in their fine city. He’s Hispanic. WTF?? A couple of weeks later the same thing happened. He was told again to “go home”.

    My point is that racial profiling STILL goes on even in areas where that person has lived their whole lives. Even in the nicer parts of Southern California. Though HBPD is about as notorious for police brutality as Signal Hill PD was back in the late 80’s. Google Huntington Beach PD and the 4th of July “riots”. You’ll see what I mean.

    What happened with Trayvon Martin is tragic and should never have happened. I’m saddened that it’s become a white vs. black situation. Although seeing a picture of the shooter, he looks Hispanic to me. He also has a last name that’s not exactly Anglo, so it’s a bit confusing to me personally why it’s considered that at all. I think that the shooter should be tried for murder, because that’s what it was — murder. I mean what was that boy threatening him with? A bag of Skittles and an Iced Tea??

    I also do not understand why so many want to kill Jews just because they are Jews. Even people who call themselves Christians. It makes no sense. Jesus Christ was a Jew. The Bible says they are the Chosen People. Again, it makes no sense. Side note: we found out this past Christmas that my husband is actually Jewish. His father and uncle have been doing a great deal of genealogy research and found that fact. 

  6. What’s most disturbing to me are these latest claims that the shooter is “not a racist.”  Everyone has their own opinion on it and whether or not his friends and family think he’s a racist is hardly the point. He IS a murderer, and what he did was flat out wrong and should be illegal.
    For as much griping as even I do about the amount of legislation we have in CA, it’s moments like these that make me remember…most of the legislation came about for reasons, because of what people did (or didn’t do) to each other. 

  7. Just to be clear – Mohammed Merah in Toulouse shot 5 people, including 2 Algerians: Catholic and Muslim.
    People(They) need to stop thinking that taking people out is a solution.  It never worked in the past, and it won’t in the future.

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