Honoring Dr. Nelson Mandela: Thank you

Okay!  No offense to anyone or the media moguls, with respect, please end the charade and attention you are giving to the fake interpreter.  There is a leader who has ascended and in my humble opinion, he is more deserving of the audience, attention, and social media trending.  That is my purpose with this blog, to share and honor how Dr. Mandela‘s life, work, and eminence means to me and possibly other Black men on the planet.

This is not to discuss the Black man’s plight, racism, or any isms.  We know what they are – challenging.  There are countless evidence in the media that speaks to this.  Dr. Mandela’s story is one example.  To this he said “I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man, or a white man.”

I considered how to express my thanks to Dr. Mandela after my last prose.  I searched online for information about him.  I read countless of selfless accounts, acts, deeds, and love about him that left my mind whirling like an angry tornado.  I decided to use some of his quotes to guide me.

I mentioned a little about my background, who I am, and where I am from in my last blog.  There is no need for redundancy.  Just know that someone like Dr. Mandela, is aside from my Dad, Mr. Kenneth Amissah (my role model: R.I.P 1937-2009) one of my role models.  I didn’t get a chance to meet the man.  But I admit that I followed his life story, the tough life that everyone knows about.

Following him is what has kept me going since my Dad passed four years ago.  Now Dr. Mandela is gone, I am looking to other Black leadership for role modeling.  I am praying that I get to meet some of them in person before they ascend to be with Dr. Mandela, Dr. Nkrumah, Dr. DuBois, Dr. King and others.  This is another way to send a message to Black leaders that we, younger generation Black men, need you, role models to guide us.

What about Dr. Mandela needs honoring?  Everything and anything that comes you to mind.  For me his lives work and what he did remind me not to give up hope.  His work reminds me to continue to dream of the possibilities.  His work reminds me that as long as there is life left in me, I can make a difference.

He said “we must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripped to do right.”   Dr. Mandela spent nearly a quarter of his life in jail for speaking up against a barbaric act, apartheid.  Yet, even in prison, he continued to impact on his brothers and sister the need to continue believing that there is good in their oppressors.  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/11/mandela-jail-warden-terrorist-brother-jack-swart and http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/10/from-rebel-to-statesman-teaching-about-the-life-of-nelson-mandela/?_r=0.

Time for me has been good because I have been able to steadfastly continue with my education, a life time feat.  I have been blessed to see that Dr. Mandela’s emphasis and message to the Black men is consistent with other immortal Black male leaders.  Dr. Mandela’s education message, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

This message began with my Dad.  He and mom worked so hard to keep my brothers and sister in school.  I remember those days when I wanted to give up because I wanted to have fun!  But Dad would find words of wisdom, use similar Dr. Mandela quotes to make it sound like getting an education is more fun than fun.  Believe me I am scratching my head even today and while I am writing this.

Today, I am still looking for ways in which I can learn new things.  For me it’s fun to learn especially when there is that aha moments when we are like, “wow, I didn’t know that, thank you!”  It’s even more fun to learn when people in all walk of like, my life, go the extra mile to include me and to make sure that I understand.

The time my family, friends, and colleagues take to make sure my learning continues through clear communication, that small selfless deed, the one that reminds me of Dr. Mandela is what makes education and learning fun.  To me when someone, takes the time to give attention to another, that time is precious, gone a moment later, and can never be regained.  That is priceless.

Dr. Mandela gave his life!  How much time is that?  How much in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, days, months, and years?  This is how much time I am asking us to honor him.  I am ask you, think about it for a moment, take a few minutes to think about how much time we have honored this man – compared to all the media hype about the fake interpreter.

It is shame.  It is a shame because I suppose that is human nature.  We honor those that make a difference in our lives after they are dead.  We immortalize the dead not the living and that to me is a disservice to Dr. Mandela and his predecessors before him.  It is even worse when instead of honoring him, we have swayed our attention to a fake, fraud, and embarrassment.

Maybe, just maybe, that is a lesson to learn like my Dad would say.  Every experience, positive or negative is a lesson.  What is the lesson this time?  Maybe there are more lessons.

Maybe one lesson is that Deaf people around the world can now be acknowledged as people too.  Another would be that it had to take Dr. Mandela’s death to bring attention to people with disabilities around the world.  Another is that sign language could be infused in all our lives because it is beautiful and can offer educational opportunities to EVERYONE.

Take a look at this beautiful fives years old.  http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/state/claire-koch-clearwater-girl-signs-christmas-song-for-deaf-parents-at-holiday-concert.  Her parents are deaf.  She is hearing like my seven years old daughter.

She elected to sign for her parents, who happened to be in the audience at the time.  From what I have been reading, her parents didn’t ask her to do this.  She did this on her own to make sure that her parents were included in the celebration – possibly one without and interpreter and thank goodness definitely not a fake one!  That, is the selfless act of Dr. Mandela to the people of South Africa when he stood up against apartheid – contagious isn’t it?

To this selfless act he said “our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”  I say this kid has a bright future. I say this kid reminded me that there is hope for all – start paying it forward.

I mentioned how to pay it forward with Deaf education and American Sign Lnaguage along with other sign languages.  I want to take this opportunity to ask leadership around the world to adopt a mentee.  I think many would agree that we have some serious leadership gaps across the globe.  I need a mentor so I can continue learning and growing.  Any Black leaders out there willing to take up the task?  Please?

One way to narrow this gap is through mentoring.  With mentoring, we can shape younger generations into leadership roles.  I have blessed to mentor several Black Deaf males.  Most of them have graduated from college and are doing really well (this is just one example).  I believe mentoring is an excellent way for all of us to pass on the baton to the younger generation because our world continues to become complex as we globalize.

Others are doing what they can in their own way to help celebrate Dr. Mandela’s name,  http://za.news.yahoo.com/watch–the-most-touching-mandela-tribute-came-from-the-least-expected-place-070947330.html.  I think this is what we need more of.  I think this is the right thing to do.  This is why we must rid the fake interpret trending and focus on honoring Dr. Mandela.

I am well aware that what is buzzing is what will sell in the media.  I have lived long enough to see similar occasions when we should be honoring individuals who made a difference that were overshadowed with hype.  At the same time I know that there are millions who would want to see that Dr. Mandela is honored with the same hype.

I would like to start.  Dr. Nelson Mandela, rest in peace.  Thank you for everything.  Thank you for being the light house for many of us.

Your ideas, deeds, believes, willingness to make sacrifices “I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a servant to you, the people”;  the willingness to teach and remind us to do right “to deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity”;  the ability to forgive and forget “forget the past”;  the ability to see beyond one’s obstacles “I am not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances”; and to leave us the reminder that the HUMAN RACE is forever poor if we don’t WORK TOGETHER “where globalization means, as it always does, that the rich and powerful now have new means to further enrich and empower themselves at the cost of the poor and weaker, we have a responsibility to protest in the name of universal freedom.”

All hail Dr. Nelson Mandela:  Rest in peace – you shall never be forgotten for only a few achieve immortality and yours is an example to all humankind.

Image credit: http://gds75.blogspot.com/2013/06/forza-madiba.htmlImage

The fake sign language interpreter: A need for leadership intervention just like Mandela called it

I thought a lot about the incident at Dr. Mandela’s funeral related to the fake sign language interpreter,  http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/11/world/africa/mandela-memorial-fake-intepreter/?hpt=hp_zite1_featured.  I struggled to find the words to express my sorrow to the Mandela family because this drew attention and continues to draw attention from honoring him, remembering his great deeds, and spending precious time with his family to celebrate his memory.  At the same time it gave me a chuckle (don’t misunderstand, please read on).

Here are my two cents.  First, for those who don’t know who I am. I am a Ghanaian, born and raised and moved to the U.S. when I was a teen.  I can’t believe how time has flown!  I have spent half of my life in the U.S among Hearing people and currently spending time in both Hearing and Deaf communities.

I agree with all the reactions around the globe.  It is wrong for whoever was responsible to have this fake interpreter on stage.  It is also an insult to the Deaf community intellects around the globe; those who have worked so hard and to those that are also working so hard to be part of society.

But before I get into that I want to admit that I laughed when I learned and read about this incident.  The laughter was not because it was funny but rather because in addition to it not being funny, it was not a surprised.  It was not a surprise because a Facebook friend posted in a discussion thread that he, the fake interpreter, could be a pawn in a corrupt system.

The pawn in a corrupt system sentiment is funny to me because I grew up in a similar system and therefore it is not new or unusual.  The pawn in a corrupt system is applicable to nearly all levels in other parts of Africa – sad but true and no offense to the leadership (theirs is a tall order).  It is also so true because the system, infrastructure, and way of life with respect to individuals with disabilities around the world are DIFFERENT.  Therefore, for us in the U.S. and those living in the Western hemisphere to get a small glimpse of what happened and how often it happened, I believe we may need to shift the way we think to evaluate this incident from the pawn in a corrupt system lens.

I tend to ask questions to guide my discussions.  Below are a few questions.  I hope that you can form your own as you read and I am sure there are infinite questions.

Can you imagine living in a system where your very basic needs as an individual with disabilities (per Maslow Hierarchy of Needs) aren’t on the radar of the leadership, even when some of the leadership have family members with disabilities?  This is a form of corruption.  This system is not set up to benefit individuals with disabilities and please know that some leaders in these corrupted countries are trying to fix this, so some credit is due to them.

As a hard of hearing person who grew up in Ghana I am thankful for my family for insisting that I go to school with all Hearing people.  Their insistence was due to the fact that they didn’t know of any other way to give me an education, which in the U.S would normally be through a Deaf institution or one similar to it.  I know how much my mom had to pay to get me to attend the “regular” school – mom and I = puppets in the corrupt system.

My mother had to work with bribery within a corrupt system to get me into the “normal” school system even though Dr. Kwame Nkrumah set up our school system to be free.  I know of other Deaf individuals who don’t and didn’t have the same opportunity that speaks to the pawn in a corrupt system thought.  This is not new and still exist in that there are Ghanaian Deaf individuals who don’t have their basic survival needs met in the same way Deaf people in the U.S have their basic needs met.

Can you imagine living in a system that doesn’t allow you to drive?  I am blessed that my family worked hard to migrate to the U.S where I can do anything, including something as simple as owning a driver’s license.  Well, you made the connection.  If you don’t have education, you can’t read, and therefore can’t drive.

Think about how much a Deaf person in Ghana or other parts of Africa, with the right “connections” (a puppet in a pawn within a corrupt system) would get a driver’s license.  Connect that to the fake interpreter because this deaf person still has to go to the DMV office, try to communicate with the clerk (if an interpreter is given, imagine how the communication would work for both the Deaf applicant and the clerk).  Let your imagination run wild because if you think that the system in the U.S is applicable to the rest of the world, or South Africa, then your analysis falls short of the reality.

Can you imagine living in a system that doesn’t give you full access to education?  Here is an example of a blog discussing education for the deaf, the first deaf school in Ghana, http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=294551.  Ask yourselves some questions.

Do you notice in the article that others from other parts of Africa are attending this school and “paying” to go to school?  Where are the funds in the form of tuition from these individuals going?  Where is the leadership in this?  Where is the accountability?

Are individuals with disabilities not people too and only deserving of fake interpreters and possibly fake teachers?  If so, then why is the system not supportive of a simple and basic need for an education, which should give one an ability, not disability, to function as a productive member of society?  Better yet, should we wait to see a fake interpreter in television before we cry foul?

Connect the dots.  If education is offered, are the teachers skilled in communicating with the students?  I know and have friends in the Peace Corps who are working in different parts of the globe teaching.  Most are from the U.S. and use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate at these schools.  Think about it for a minute, they use ASL not Ghanaian Sign Language (GSL) even though the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) http://wfdeaf.org passed a provision to prohibit other languages from trumping native languages outside of the U.S.  This should give you some food for thought about why it is so critical to engage in COLLABORATIVE educational efforts.  Also, imagine if my friends and other Peace Corps members aren’t working at these schools.  Ask yourself how the African teachers, many of whom are not trained to work with the Deaf would transfer knowledge.

KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER is the act of transferring information via CLEAR COMMUNICATION.  Failure to communicate clearly is a handicap to knowledge transfer.  This is why Deaf people around the world are outraged by this fake interpreter.  Most of us had no idea what the fake interpreter was saying and therefore we gained no knowledge of what the leadership said the funeral about Dr. Mandela’s legacy.

Again, this is an analysis not an indictment, a cry foul, or insult.  Rather it is an OPPORTUNITY for our leadership to begin assessing these situations proactively instead of waiting for it to blow up in their faces like it did with the fake interpreter.

Let’s take it another step further and play a little devil’s advocate here.  For the U.S I could imagine if this man was a terrorist posting as a fake interpreter, what would be the consequence of having this fraud next to President Obama?  That thought scares me beyond this argument and it is for another blog.

My action to address the concern related to the Ghana school for the Deaf?  I sent the link to the article and a message to the President of Ghana.  In my message I asked for his help to not close the school.  I also offered to help in any way I can, considering I am Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  I believe the right thing to do is get involved and so I am waiting for President Mahama’s response.  I also believe this an action that Dr. Mandela would take.

Don’t get me wrong and I am not here to criticize or try to say that we should have this conversation through the lens of the victim.  I am not here to blame leadership or cry foul because I believe the rest of the Deaf world around the world already did that and is still going.

I would like to continue to believe that leadership around the world, reading blogs, watching the different television news about this fake interpreter, are open minded, have thick skin, and can take and accept constructive dialogue about issues as Dr. Mandela would.  Therefore, I am writing to point out how we can come together to address this issue.  I am also writing from experience to share and help the education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing CHILDREN.

I also believe Mandela would want me to say something because he said something about apartheid.  I believe Mandela would want something better for all of us including clear communication for the Deaf and other individuals with disabilities.  I hope when we read blogs, including this one, we read it with open mind in the same way we all came together a few days ago, with an open mind and heart, to celebrate Dr. Mandela’s good deeds and memory.

I also am a product of that pawn in the corrupt system of Africa. I am hoping that by coming out to say something, it might offer a different lens into why we must find ways to help individuals with disabilities assimilate into society to make a difference like Dr. Mandela did. So it is not a surprise to me that there was a fake interpreter.  Equally, it isn’t a surprise to see the Western response to it, which is why it is a chuckle to me.

The chuckle part is that even the Western interpreter system still needs work.  Work is a much-needed COLLABORATIVE effort on both sides – Deaf and Hearing.  As an alumni of National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) http://www.ntid.rit.edu/admissions, and employee of Gallaudet University http://www.gallaudet.edu, (I am not speaking on behalf of any of these institutions), I have seen first hand on how some Deaf individuals will go to lengths to exclude Hearing people, criticize their lack of understanding of our needs, bemoan them for being audists, and the list is endless.

I am calling this out not to criticize those that feel this way about the Hearing world.  I am calling it out because I want to understand how we, the some in the Deaf community, to expect Hearing people to KNOW what to do, to WORK with us without involving them through continued education.   To me when some Deaf people behave in this manner of excluding Hearing folks, then it sends the message that we can do everything on our own. Of course, Deaf people can do anything and everything, but there are certain things, and almost all things, that we must all WORK TOGETHER TO ACHIVE.

One of the challenges is that Hearing people, in general, may not know that they need to get a certified interpreter like in the U.S., and on the same token Hearing people in South Africa used a fake interpreter – they don’t know any better.  Those Hearing people who made those mistakes by hiring a fake interpreter are simply behaving in their comfort zone and sphere unless they have a Deaf brother, cousin, aunt or family member to remind them that it is wrong.

It is not right.  It is wrong.  Therefore, one way to get Hearing people to understand is consistent, persistent, and ongoing education through COLLABORATION.  I believe that was Mandela’s message to us.

So if some Deaf folks are vociferating foul about Hearing people being insensitive, how do we expect Hearing people to understand when we don’t include them in our ways?  While this may come to hurt some Deaf folks and I am sorry if it does, but the result of excluding Hearing people is what we are dealing with – a fake interpreter that is stealing the attention from Dr. Mandela’s funeral.  I don’t feel good about it because it isn’t about the sign language, it is about honoring Dr. Nelson Mandela, his leadership, his message to us, and why it is so important to practice proactive and collaborative leadership – everyone of us around the globe is implored to act. 

Should we wait until the water main breaks before we try to find something to stop the leak?  This is theoretical question that speaks to the REACTIVE mode of how some members of the Deaf and Hearing communities operate.  No offense, and if I am wrong I shall learn, but I am speaking from experience here.  Most members of our Deaf and Hearing communities alike are reactive not proactive.  There are countless examples of this around the globe in the media that speak to this.

One example, I don’t have to go off the point to mention about Deaf institutions that are closing around the country in the U.S.  In my opinion, the message is that we, the Deaf community leadership, have failed to work with Hearing community leadership to help them understand why the Deaf institutions are so critical to us, our development, growth, and well being.  The failure is due to actions of reactivity not proactively.  In return, funds are being cut Statewide and Deaf institutions are closing like water from Niagara Falls.  It is a hard pill to swallow even for me but that is the one example of how we cannot wait until a fake sign language interpreter overshadows an important event to act and work together collaboratively.

I am also writing about this so I can be proactive to address some of these issues in my own way.  It is a leadership stance and a choice I am making with the knowledge and understanding that some of my closest friend, Deaf, will not be happy to hear a certain uncomfortable truth.  I believe in the ideals Dr. Mandela imparted on us.

Dr. Mandela got involved, he spoke an uncomfortable truths and against apartheid, some of the truths hurt some leadership who perpetrated apartheid.  But in the long run, we are looking at his message and arriving to this, what Dr. Mandela said is so true!  Dr. Mandela got involved even when it landed him in jail for 27 years!  In jail, he continued his work to send the message that we cannot sit idly around and wait until something happens before we take a leadership stance.

That is why we honored him.  That is why the people around the globe mourns him.  That is why the world is outraged by this shamble of placing a fake interpreter on stage during his funeral.

So my writing about this, if it is offensive to anyone in the Deaf and Hearing communities, I am sorry.  But the one truth is that I am not sure how Hearing people, in their natural setting, will KNOW what to do if we, the Deaf community, don’t engage them in our languages, culture, and way of life.  I know it is 2013 and soon will be 2014 and some might say, “come one!”

But the one truth is that even in 2013, there are interpreter related issues, some of which are insulting to interpreters from some Deaf clients, within the Western culture address to individuals with disabilities.  Take a closer look at the ADA, IDEA, NCLB, and the entire infrastructure in place that were intended to help us.  Great ideas, laws, acts, and initiates but in and of itself, nothing happens unless we both Deaf and Hearing get involved.

For the Deaf, lets ask ourselves, how many of these acts and laws have at least 50% Deaf individuals (leadership) leading the efforts to assimilate these ACTS and LAWS into the Hearing system where Hearing folks are AWARE and KNOWLEDGEABLE to hire the right interpreters, etc?  Not to mention that theses ACT and LAWS are non-existent around the globe.

Are we Deaf implying that Hearing leadership came up with these acts and laws and therefore, they should be the ones to make it work for us without active participation?  I think this fake interpreter should serve as a lesson that the “us versus them” mindset needs to change and stop.  That was the message Dr. Mandela sent when he came out of prison.

Please believe me when I tell you that I share the pains that this fake interpreter snafu has caused to the Deaf and Hearing communities around the world.  I am Hard of Hearing.  The rest of my family are Hearing.  None of them use sign language to communicate.  I don’t mandate that they do and I know some Deaf friend who don’t engage their families because of this.  I encourage them, my family memebrs, to learn but I don’t force it on them because personally I think learning sign language makes one smart.  Just saying and that could be applicable to learning other languages.

The point is that I am ALWAYS teaching my family and Hearing friends about my needs as a Hard of Hearing son, brother, father, uncle and friend.  I am ALWAYS telling them about the dos and don’ts that help me function as part of the family and within society.  I have other Deaf friends who are profoundly Deaf and cannot talk like I do who suffer worse communication situations than I do.  So I am aware and know of where I speak of the ills and pains of being Hard of Hearing.

Do members of my family slip on occasions?  You can bet they do!  But I don’t exclude them when they slip and make mistakes.  I don’t scold them as being audits like I have seen some Deaf do to Hearing people who are trying.  I continue to teach them in ways that helps me be part of everything.  After all I want to be part of everything and don’t expect that on the outset, Hearing people will understand Deafness unless it hits home to them.

I am also a product of sitting around the dinner table where everyone in the family is laughing and when I ask what’s so funny – the response: I’ll tell you later, which leaves me feeling left out.  Instead of waiting for this continue, I took a FUTURE proactive stance to make sure that I ask my family to consider one person speak at a time.  I took the proactive stance to ensure that the dinner table seating arrangement benefits me so I can have conversations with my nieces and often start to teach them the ASL alphabets.

Which to my surprised and inspiration, they already knew some and became engaged in learning more.  Believe me, it wasn’t an easy feat but in a long run, changes have taken place – slowly but surely and I love my family.  Therefore I am not perfect and don’t intend to paint my family as perfect.  I share all the frustrations in the Deaf community about the COMMUNICATION CHALLENGES and bottom line is that I engage my family and my Hearing friends.

So I don’t mean to offend anyone in the Deaf community by calling out the exclusion behaviors of some Deaf people toward Hearing people.  I mean to point out that Hearing people are naturally within their comfort zone to make mistakes that often offend us.  The one way to help minimize or eliminate similar fake interpreter situations is to ENGAGE them in everything we do.  The engagement is what Dr. Mandela was all about.

It is so true that this incident was wrong. At the same time, I think this is a wake up call, an OPPORTUNITY for all of us to get involved, just like Mandela called it.

Get involve in Peace Corps.  Get involve in Deaf education abroad by offering to teach at a Deaf school.  Get involved somehow to help the Deaf around the globe.  Get involved by helping the LEADERSHIP around the glode to understand that this incident has IMPACTED ALL OF US.

Get your leadership to allow sign language to be a required language to learn in ELEMENTARY schools across the globe.  Encourage your school districts and systems to include sign language in its curriculums.  When you see a Deaf person, say hello, ask how you can learn sign language and LEARN IT, USE IT because believe me it will make you smart.

Thank you all, world, for raising awareness and your points of views within the different blogs and media and this petty and insulting debacle to the Mandela family and Deaf community.  They were all refreshing to read and I hope I added some food for thoughts as a hard of hearing person to what we can all do to help prevent future occurrences.

Happy holidays to all and may Dr. Mandela rest in peace, his ideals remain immortal, and for all of us to remember that a system is like a seed.  We can only bear its fruits by planting it, watering it, watching it grow into a tree, and pruning its branches.  Happy holidays around the globe!

Trayvon Martin: Dead, George Zimmerman: Walks

For those of you who have not had a chance to read my previous blog about the innocent 17 years old boy, who was shot to death, please read it.  This is follow up of the previous blog. This follow up is written with a heavy heart.  I am sad, confused, angry, resentful, hurt, emotionally drained, and with hosts of other disturbed feelings.  http://kamissah.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/i-am-a-man-in-a-hoodie-and-trayvon-martin-didnt-have-to-die-3/

I am not looking for revenge.  I am not looking to hurt anyone because that will not solve the problem or help me feel better.  But I need to vent.  I need to get this out in the open so that others can see what I have to live with, often not by choice, but by “requirement.”

I have questions that have my head spinning like a hamster in a cage.  No matter how many times I ask, the answers I get makes me more confused about the verdict.  I am wondering about many things.

The first question is this: Would Trayvon still be alive if Zimmerman did not follow him?  The simple answer is, probably, because we will never know this alternative.  It didn’t happen that way.  What happened is that he followed him but why?

Why did he follow him?  According to the media accounts of Zimmerman’s response to this why he followed him, Trayvon looked suspicious.  Was he suspicious because he was doing something wrong?  Was he hurting somebody?  Was he climbing into someone’s home through a window?  Was he climbing a fence?  Was he taking a piss on the lawn?  Was he mocking someone?  What exactly was Trayvon doing that made him suspicious?

From what I have read in the media, Trayvon was walking home from a 7-11 store with ice tea and a bag of candy, skittles. It was raining and he put his hood over his head.  Trayvon was talking on the phone.

If I have this media account wrong, someone, please help me get some facts.  All I have is what the media put out to read and learn.  All I have is what I saw on the news on different channels in hopes to dissect and make sense of what’s happening. All I have learned is that Trayvon was not causing harm to the worms that came from the ground because of the rain or a fly on the wall.

The fly on the wall did not testify.  It is probably flying around the same location that Trayvon was shot and laughing at all of us, at this result.  It is probably dead from the sound of Zimmerman’s gun.

The gun he is probably going to get back to Zimmernman’s hands.  The gun that killed an innocent child, a 17 year old child, drinking ice tea, eating a bag of skittles, and talking on the phone.  The gun that sent a message to all of us:  Wearing a hoodie in the rain, eating skittles, drinking ice tea, and talking on the phone is susceptible to stand your ground law and self defense killing.

Here is another thought: If you, yes I mean you, you were walking down the street doing the same thing Trayvon was doing, how would you respond?  How would you respond in someone has been following you, gets out of their car, and come from behind you?  Let’s be honest here.  How would you really respond?

Would you be afraid for your life?  Would you be concerned for your safety? What would you do?  Would you remain calm?  Would you run?  Would you stand still?  I am curious as to what others will really do in a similar situation.  Please try your best to give an honest impromptu answer.  Put yourself in that situation and tell us how you would have reacted to being profiled, followed, and ultimately confronted countering police advice.

A friend of mine gave me food for thought.  He said, you know, Kojo, Zimmerman should have offered Trayvon a ride home!  This comment left me even more hurt.  I was hurt because Trayvon is not here to tell us his side of the story.  He is not here to tell us because he is dead.

Why is he dead? He is dead because he was profiled and shot for no reason.  The man who profiled and shot him walked in this justice system.  Apparently being dead was not enough to convict Zimmerman.  He is free and that message took me back to once upon a time.

Once upon a time someone bombed a church.  Inside the church were little children.  Black, innocent, little girls were inside the church.  Innocent just like Trayvon were innocent.  http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/m_r/randall/birmingham.htm

This verdict reminded me of that day back in 1963.  How many more innocent children have to die for all of us to stop these senseless killings?  What will it take for you and I to put us in the Martin family’s shoes to get it?  He was 17 years old!

Supposed you have a 17 years old son like Trayvon, how do you keep him safe from profiling?  What do you tell him to do and not do?  Do you restrict his movement?  How do you monitor this boy?  What tools of values do you arm him with for his safety? How do you really prepare him for the world? How should he respond to racial profiling?

I am a father and I am deeply hurt.  Most parents will agree to this adage:  No parent wants to outlive their children.  In this case, Trayvon’s parents will outlive him.  If that doesn’t cut through our hearts as we all search for meaning, I am not sure what will.

Trayvon was a black teen.  As black father, I am feeling scared for other boys his age.  I am feeling the need to pray for all the boys his age, all of the boys of color.  I pray for your safety.  I pray that you don’t suffer Trayvon’s fate.  I pray that you pray for each other and find ways to survive out of harms way.

I am mourning.  I am sad.  I am hurt.  I am confused as to what to make of the result.  I am deeply hurt for Trayvon’s parents.  I am sorry for your loss.  My prayers go out to you and the rest of your family.  Know that many of us are mourning with you. God bless you.