Monday, March 26, 2012

Don't Shoot Me, I Only Have Skittles!

Do you know who Trayvon Martin is? Have you heard the story of the Florida shooting of an 140 pound 17 year old boy by an 250 pound 28 year old? A 28 year who initiated the confrontation between himself whom was armed and an unarmed young boy and then proceeded to hide behind the Stand Your Ground Law?

On February 26, 2012, a 17-year old African American named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida. The shooter was George Zimmerman, a 28-year old white man. Zimmerman admits killing Martin, but claims he was acting in self defense. In Florida under the Stand Your Ground Law, a person may use deadly force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat, without an obligation to retreat first. Due to this law Zimmerman remains free, despite his admittance to the murder. This is where the case begins, did Zimmerman truly have a reason to fear for his life?

While staying in Florida with his father and  the father's fiance, Trayvon walked to the grocery store and purchased ice tea and a bag of skittles for his little brother. However, on the way home he was followed by The Neighborhood Watch on duty, George Zimmerman, while on the phone with his girlfriend he told herr how he believed George to be following him, she then told him to run which he rejected the idea of and instead pulled over his hood(it was in fact raining after all) and walked at a faster pace. Meanwhile, George Zimmerman proceeded to call the police and inform them of Trayvon's "suspicious" behavior, to which the 911 operator told Zimmerman not to follow the boy and stay in his car. None of which he followed. Now feeling more on edgy Trayvon began to run from his pursuer, only for Zimmerman to state to the operator "These as----es, they always get away." and proceed to follow on foot. Once Zimmerman managed to corner Trayvon, all his girlfriend heard was ""What are you following me for?" by Trayvon, and "What are you doing here?" by Zimmerman and shuffles of an physical confrontation before the line went dead.

How can the Stand Your Ground Law even be put into effect in this circumstance if Zimmerman followed and confronted Trayvon, while Trayvon was the one fleeing for his life? Stand Your Ground Law implies Trayvon came to confront Zimmerman, who in turn felt threatened. Contorting the law in this way it would give right for someone to chase down someone they didn't like and kill them during the altercation, with no threat of consequence. It is at this point where the case is still being questioned, and the 911 calls being analyzed, to determine who really was the one in danger?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spread The Word To End The Word

Mostly everyone has said the "R-Word" before, we've all heard it being used in a certain context.
 But how many of you have resisted saying this term? How many of you let your friends say it? 
How many of you know someone who has an intellectual disability? Would you ever say that term around them? To their family? To their face?

Growing up the words "retard",  "retarded", "re-re", etc. were the norm insults, they were on the same level as stupid and dumb. There was no differentiation, there was no understanding of what those words meant. I may have even been in the same class as those with intellectual disabilities, but was too young to tell the difference. I learned what the term actually meant in about middle school, but by that time it was already etched in my brain. From that point on it became simply odd to hear the term, and much awkwarder to have it escape my lips. it wasn't till I actually met a peer with noticeable intellectual disabilities that it truly hit me. That just wasn't an appropriate word. So far in my life I've known several peers with intellectual disabilities, and I don't see it as a problem. Their "disability" isn't what defines them as a person, or as a friend.

 Everyone is on different levels socially, intellectually, athletically, etc. so where does the comparison start? What is the norm? Average? There can be someone who's missing a leg and still be faster than a "normal" person. Someone who has intellectual disabilities and still be smarter than a "normal" person. Frankly their "disabilities" aren't even that, they're advantages. Those who struggle put more effort into doing something, there's more passion and commitment, because they want to prove that no matter the difference they can keep up with everyone else. Then there's "normal" people who don't even bother because there's no obstacles, they live their whole life with the mentality that, "if the path is easy why put more effort than necessary?". Just taking what they have for granted, when there's those that need it and could put it to better use. People talk down on these individuals, pity them, separate them from their peers and force them to feel different. To look upon the rest of the world with jealousy or mourn their differences. When instead they're stronger than we'll ever be. Those individuals wake up everyday willing to fight another obstacle, time after time again; they know what it truly means to be strong when odd's are against them.
"Normal" people have no idea. 

As far as I'm concerned the "R-Word" is on the same level as racial slurs, and if it's a general conception that those are inappropriate then why not the "R-Word"? Every single time someone says that word or words that stem from it, they're enforcing the misconception that these individuals, that had no choice in the matter what so ever, are lower than everyone else. Every time you say that word, you're tearing down millions of people who spend every living second building themselves back up. Babies, toddlers, kids, teenagers, adults, and elderly. All souls that have to endure another second of the world's stigma on disabled individuals, who fight for their right in the world harder than anyone else. Every time your friends say that word they're spreading the hate, allowing it to bloom to reach future generations. Every time you don't stop this word from being said, you're letting it reach millions who feel these insults stronger than bullets. Every time you don't spread the word of to end these words, some of these individuals are faced with thoughts of suicide, because you're allowing the stereotype that they will never amount to anything to spread to their ears. The "R-Word" is murder, for self-esteem and lives alike.