Don’t blame the victim for the effects of racism


Photo credit: Andreia Melinkoff

Alejandro Ramos

When I was young, I had a pair of Nike Cortez sneakers that I loved. They were small, sleek, and just plain looked like they were made to run fast. I wore them everyday cause they made me feel like the coolest guy around.

One day, however, I stopped wearing them. They were still in decent condition and I could’ve gotten plenty of more use out of them. I didn’t want to wear them though, because I didn’t feel safe in them anymore.

Believe it or not, this scenario is common among minorities growing up in America. Society conditions us to believe that if we are attacked, it is through no one’s fault but our own. It is because of this that we have to make conscious decisions of how we walk, talk, and look because our safety and well-being depends on it.

You can argue against this point all you want, but it’s the truth. Minorities in this day and age still have to live according to outdated, oppressive rules just to get by day to day.

You might think that statement is an exaggeration, but it certainly wasn’t for Trayvon Martin. Several factors that were discussed following Trayvon’s death were the conditions by which it occurred, including his skin color, what he was wearing and the time of day.

The media had a field day for months deliberating this case. The discussions would, in some cases, devolve to blaming Trayvon for what happened to him because he looked like a “thug”.

Unfortunately, these type of comments always seem to come up for cases like these. With Trayvon Martin, it was because he looked like a “thug”. When a girl is raped, we hear people defend the assailant by saying she “asked for it”. When a gay man is attacked, it was because the assailant wasn’t comfortable with being flirted with.

We say we’re living in a time of social and racial tolerance, but it certainly doesn’t show in the way we treat the victims of discrimination and violence. Things might not be as bad as they were 50 years ago, but these incidents definitely show that the same negative mentality is still around today.

It only rears its ugly head every so often, but that’s enough to remind us it’s there.

We definitely have a ways to go before we achieve social and racial equality. It’s up to us though — to start the dialogue with each other and talk about how we can change the atmosphere of our society. Hopefully we can reach an agreement to live as peaceful, tolerant individuals so that another kid won’t have to give up their favorite pair of sneakers.