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Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Son, the Endangered Species

Last month, my son Michael and I went to dinner together at a very nice restaurant in Hobe Sound, Florida. We were sitting at a high-top table, waiting for our food to arrive, when a man came over and said to Michael, “May I ask you a question?”

Michael is 25, wears a beard, and on this particular evening, he was dressed in sandals, jeans, and a gray hoody.

The man wore a black leather jacket, an earring in one ear, jeans, and tennis shoes. The portion of his skin that showed was covered in tattoos. He looked to be in his mid-sixties. At one time, he was probably a really great looking guy, judging from his bone structure. However, like a lot of Floridians, he’d baked himself in the sun too long, so his skin was wrinkled and textured like a Coach purse.

“Sure,” said Michael, with a shrug.

“What’s with the hoody?” asked the man.

Michael gave me one of those looks that translates into “huh?” I smiled at him encouragingly. He’s my baby boy, no matter how big he gets, and I love him.

“I like them,” said Michael. “I just like them.”

“Oh,” said the man. “Just so you know, if I see you at my house in that hoody, I will shoot you.”
Really? I nearly fell off my chair. I could not believe what I was hearing. Fortunately, I know the restaurant owners, and I knew they would intervene if I asked for help. But I didn't want to make a scene. Once he had said his piece, the man wandered off.

I sat there thinking of all the things I should have said.

So here’s my point—and I do have one.

If you think that the shootings of Treyvon Martin and Michael Brown were all about race, you are wrong.

And if you think because you are white (like I am and like my son is) that you are safe, you are wrong.

There’s something really pathetic about people who feel threatened by young men in hoodies. 

There’s something really sick about people who think they can just shoot people because they don’t like what they’re wearing. As long as one boy is endangered by this sort of madness, none of our children are safe.


Amy Gill said...

Joanna, that I is really frightening. I think I may caution my grandchildren.

Gram said...

I wonder if he would shoot me - a great-grandmother who wears hoodies - it's cold in New England!
As my Dad used to say "If you get kicked by a jackass, you take it from whence it comes". I think you and your son got kicked.

Dru said...

oh my gosh, there is something wrong with society and especially that man who just came out and made that statement. If that is the norm, I afraid for everyone.

Joanna Slan said...

Amy, it is horrifying. Do warn your grandchildren.

Joanna Slan said...

Gram, I think your father was a wise man. We didn't get kicked, in that we didn't make a big scene and give him reason to think he was right.

Joanna Slan said...

Dru Ann, I thought about pointing out to him that some people find tattoos offensive and frightening. But I choked. This man is NOT the norm, but the fact that he spoke with such impunity says a lot, doesn't it?