George Zimmerman vs. Kenyan Youth: Village talk
Racial charged international exposure:As a Kenyan and Floridian, I keep wondering and thinking about the George Zimmerman case. I had a graduate student who took my classes at FCU a few years ago from Sanford Florida. I had a chance to visit her home. She and her husband are very good God fearing people. In fact I would say that Sanford Florida is a very good city. I attended their church one Sunday and I loved the neighborhoods. Sanford residents are mostly black but it is a very peaceful place.
It is therefore sad that this community find itself in a racial charged international exposure.
I do not view the case against George Zimmerman from an American perspective. Everything I see, eat, drink in America has a bouncing wall of my Kenyan culture and my personal historical development. One of these historical developments goes back to a home in Michigan. I visited my professor while a graduate student. She had invited people from her church and we were having fellowship after church. One of her guests was a lawyer. On discovering my international student status, he gave me his legal advice. “Kenyan, avoid violating American laws. And if you ever get in a legal jam, call me first.”
While living in Deerfield Illinois, a wealthy neighborhood suburb of Chicago, I had a black American fellow graduate student visit my “hut” for chai. He was shocked that I lived in an all white neighborhood. “How can you live here man?” He asked me “Don’t the police stop you all the time?” I said they stopped me one time driving from class. “I think they fail to stop you because you are a Kenyan.” He remarked in a matter of fact manner. How they would know I am a Kenyan from inside their police cruiser is debatable. “They stopped me that time because I had a rear light out. And they gave me a warning.” He did not believe my explanation. “Man if it was me, they would have given me a ticket. Racial profiling man.”
I do not know why the cop did not give me a ticket but instead chose to give me a warning. I fixed my light and never got stopped again.
Is there racial profiling in America? Yes. Is it done by every white looking dude? No! If I was asked my advice for Kenyan young men walking home from Seven Eleven wearing a Hoodie, I would give them the same advice I was given by the elderly lawyer a long time ago. “Kenyan, avoid violating any American law. And when someone start following you, don’t stop to say jambo. Rather, become a Kenyan and run home!
Teddy Njoroge Kamau(PhD) SYR Radio/TV, Director International Desk. IMANISHA