To Kill a Mocking Boy

April 5th, 2012

Inspired by the airing tonight at the White House of the classic and incomparable To Kill a Mockingbird on this its 50th anniversary.

 

“And so, a quiet, humble respectable Negro who has had the temerity to feel sorry for a white woman has had to put his word against two white people’s… In this country, our courts are the great levelizer. In our courts, all men are created equal.” — Atticus Finch

 

It used to be punishable by death for a black man to show disrespect,

Or if whites in his demeanor any insolence could detect.

 

Meekness and innocence didn’t one’s safety guarantee,

But it greatly increased the odds of survivability.

 

That’s in part why the Trayvon Martin case has provoked such an uproar–

Trayvon was just a kid with Skittles and iced tea walking home from the store.

 

Some suggest he could have been even less threatening if he that hoodie hadn’t worn,

A suggestion which deserves to be covered with scorn.

 

Did George Zimmerman, older, 100 pounds heavier, and armed,

Really have reason to fear he’d be seriously harmed?

 

But what if the black man in question isn’t humble and quiet?

Doesn’t that make it even harder armed whites’ fears to disquiet?

 

Maybe Trayvon Martin was polite when confronted, or maybe not.

But would that have meant he deserved to be shot?

 

No, which is why no matter how much Zimmerman’s defenders what happened distort,

Both Trayvon and George Zimmerman deserve their day in court.

***

Here’s a scene from the movie To Kill a Mockingbird (the book’s great too).

 

Update: read more about White House movie night in White House screens “To Kill a Mockingbird” (WashingtonPost.com4/05/12).

 

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