In the wake of George Zimmerman’s recent acquittal for the killing of Trayvon Martin, we’ve heard celebrities chime in with their thoughts on the verdict. However, none have been quite as striking as Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s essay in The Huffington Post. Questlove touches upon both personal and cultural issues with race relations in America.
Questlove writes about the difficulties of being a physically imposing black male: “I wait and wait in cars until I feel it’s safe for me to make people feel safe” Thompson writes. “I know most of y’all are eye-rolling, but if you spent a good three months in these size 14s you’d understand why I take that position.”
Whether it be waiting in cars or foregoing a typical vacation, Questlove’s essay covers a range of ways that life as a 6’2”, 300-pound African-American with an “uncivilized afro” is extraordinarily different. One of the most striking tales in the essay comes from a chance encounter on an elevator.
Questlove shares an elevator with an attractive woman and offers to press the number of her floor, but the woman doesn’t respond. Assuming she’s on the same floor as him, he does what any male would do and gets all giddy with the idea of wooing this woman. Instead, it turns out she wasn’t living on the same floor, she was just scared for him to know what floor she lived on.
“That is a crazy way to live. Seriously, imagine a life in which you think of other people’s safety and comfort first before your own. You’re kinda programmed and taught that from the gate. It’s like the opposite of entitlement.”
Thompson also relates the recent Trayvon Martin case back to the brutal shootings of Sean Bell in 2006, another case that resulted in a “no surprises” attitude.
“I’m not surprised at the disposition, but who wants to be reminded?” he said. “What fat person wants to hear they aren’t pleasing to the eye? Or what addict wants to hear they are a constant eff-up? Who wants to be reminded that shrug it’s just the way it is?”
Read the whole essay here.