It was a chilly summer evening. He was all alone, jogging back home from campus in the twilight. The road passed alongside an ecological preserve and a dilapidated warehouse. He was on the last dredges of his willpower to cover the remaining distance.
Few cars whizzed past at that hour with no cause for concern. But then, there came along a rickety rusty car that went by playing loud hip-hop. "Kids.", he sighed. But the car slowed down, and finally stopped a few yards from him. Mild curiosity soon led to a bit of fear, as there seemed to be no apparent reason for the stopover. Action scenes from Hollywood replayed in his mind where a car door suddenly opens to hit the unsuspecting victim, leading to confrontation. Instinctively, he crossed the road and kept running on the other side with furtive glances towards the car.
As he passed along, he saw the occupants staring at him. As he moved on, the car started out slowly. His mind went into overdrive about how he could dash into the forest if the assailants come; and how it would be unwise to run into the isolated building nearby. But what if they have guns? Should he tackle them? Or empty his pockets? Time stood still.
And suddenly, there was a loud whirr and the car sped onwards into oblivion.
He was me, about two years ago. And I am thinking of him today, as I think of the teenager who died in Florida for no fault of his own. This is not as much about racism, as it is about self-preservation. It is about that sense of foreboding, that creeping irrational fear and the split-moment decision you make at such times. How do you think rationally when you are gripped with fear for your life? Would you stand your ground and fight; or shit your pants and run? And which one is the right approach? If George got a beating, he had brought it upon himself by continuing to stalk his suspect. He had no business taking law in his own hands. Self-defense could have been the primary argument on Trayvon's side, but not his.
This is not about black or white.
This is not about who had a more checkered past.
This is not about the victim or the perpetrator being an adult or minor.
This is about a common man choosing to kill another man with a lethal weapon in a public place on a mere hunch. The jury did sympathize with Trayvon, but did they empathize with him?
When US beckoned me by Siddharth Wagh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.