So you wanna wear black tomorrow for Trayvon Martin?
But you’re white, and you wonder if doing so is insensitive? Well, in some ways, it totally is. One of those ways is that, as a white person, the chances that you’re mourning the same thing people of color are mourning is pretty stinking slim. And some Black people will almost certainly be angry at you for that, because they’re mourning all of their children right now, whose lives are so heavily invested in dealing with this kind of thing every day. The knowledge that they have to teach their children that any interaction, even (and often especially) with those in charge of protecting them, could result in their death, and that their murder may go entirely unprosecuted.
That’s something that, as a white person, you don’t understand. Not on the same level. You can’t. And people of color are rightfully angry and upset about this whole incident, and furious with the system that allows it to continue. Because this is about their lives, what you mean as support for the struggle of their community might look like an attempt at solidarity, and it’s not your place to seek solidarity here. It might be construed as offensive.
On the other hand, wearing black is respectful and shows that you’re paying attention and you care about what’s happened. That’s important, and not doing it also carries the potential to be infuriating because by making that decision, you’ve chosen to make the potential that someone will get mad at you more important than what happened to Trayvon.
The thing is, though, if you choose to wear black, you can’t expect congratulations for caring about a child’s murder. Nobody has to wear a special color to show they care about a highly publicized white child’s murder. It’s assumed that if it’s in the news, we care about it. So if you do wear black, you do it quietly, and if someone challenges you and says you can’t possibly understand, you agree with them. You can’t. Possibly. Understand. And now of all times is NOT the moment to expect people of color to try to educate you about it.
It’s your call, but no matter what you do, somebody’s going to be mad at you, and that anger is justified because this isn’t an isolated incident and you are part of the group that benefits from this system even if you don’t actively make it happen. There’s not a right answer. And that’s ok. But as a white person, let tomorrow, at the very least, be the day you step aside. Use your judgment and wear black or not, but don’t make it about you. No matter what.