I got up this morning a little before sunrise and took our dog out for a walk. I live in a townhouse over looking a lake in one of those gated communities. Behind the house is a paved walking trail that leads down to the community clubhouse. I've walked this trail a hundred times before.
But this morning it was different. As I walked my dog around and watched a duck swim towards a pair of geese, I started thinking what if me walking around in the predawn twilight was suspicious to someone? What if they didn't see my dog running around and thought I looked at their patio furniture a second longer then I should?
Then it got me thinking about all the times over the years that I've lived here and the walks I've taken in the cool of the evening to try to shed the pounds. About all the walks to friends houses to say hi. I know I've done some of them in hoodies because as we know I'm not really girlie and they are comfortable.
What if I had stopped to change a song on my Ipod or to unravel my headphones? My father taught his only daughter when you're walking alone to keep looking around to see if any one's coming up behind you. (That's the paranoid Navy chief in him.) What if some yahoo saw that and thought, "That person looks suspicious?"
I remember a time when I was walking with a friend and her friends thought it would be funny to pull up along side of us while we were walking on a dirt path near the road. My first primal instinct in those first few seconds was to grab my friends arm and run towards my house. As a child you're taught about stranger danger, as a woman you're taught about rapists, you're taught to be afraid of slow moving cars fallowing you in movies and on tv.
All those things happened to Trayvon Martin as he return from the store to get Skittles for his younger brother and a iced tea one evening. He was alone walking along when he notices a man driving slowly following him. What would you tell you kid to do? Wave and say hi or think stranger danger in their heads? What would I have done? The same thing I did as a teen with my friend, run like the wind away from danger.
It didn't end so well for Trayvon that evening. He ended up being shot by that stranger danger. He ended up dead on a side walk in one of those gated townhouse communities and I wonder if it too had a lake where a duck swam towards a pair of geese this morning.
Update: If you haven't already PLEASE sign the petition to bring justice to Trayvon's case.