Trash and the Zimmerman Trial


Is this the message you want to send

Referring to someone as trashy brings up certain images. It usually speaks to someones moral standards, but I’ll bet that at one time the expression was used for someone or a family who allowed trash to build up around their house and property. It was probably later that it developed a moral overtone.

I had a Walmart bag fly out of my truck today. I considered letting it go, but it bothered me. I don’t want my town to be known as trashy. If I don’t pick it up, then who is?

I had a bad experience with trash once. I went on a mission trip to Brazil. On the way from the airport to my missionary friends apartment, the thing that struck me was the amount of trash on the highways and the graffiti on the walls that surrounded what I later learned was the typical middle class home.

It wasn’t till later that I realized these were good, hard working, nice people that I grew quickly to love. However, I also realized that I was programmed by trash and graffiti to feel that I was in danger and that threats were lurking all around. Trash and graffiti meant to me a certain level of lawlessness and street danger.

I couldn’t help but think of this during the Zimmerman trial. The fact that this happened at all is a sad tragedy for Trayvon and the Martin family. Without speaking to anyone’s guilt or actions, it is true that certain exterior stimulus do cause fear in us regardless of our race. It is ingrained into our DNA to feel caution if not fear when we are exposed to certain stimuli. The stimuli that causes fear may be different for people of different races or nationalities, but the fear can seem very real and cause us to act irrationally.

gangster 2

What is he trying to say?

As a Caucasian, if I were the parent of a male teenager or young adult, I would caution them against wearing clothing or act in a way that illicit fear of harm in others. Its a risky decision and there may be a bad consequence.

Though I learned to get over the trash and graffiti in Brazil and I became comfortable that I was not in danger, but I still didn’t like it and think they would do well to clean up the appearance of their streets.

In a perfect world, no one will feel fear or act irrationally when they see someone in a hoodie or baggy pants or piercings or provocative tattoos or drive certain types of cars and listen to certain types of music, but this is not yet a perfect world and we ignore this at our own peril.

For an excellent book on this subject, Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers is a good read.

  • Gary W. Mize

    Your best commentary yet, brother. You spoke about much, including responsibility – piecing together what I could only think – in pieces.

    • Clay J Mize

      Thanks W,

      We need to go see Johnny and Virginia some time. Want to go?

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