Monday, March 26, 2012

White People, You Will Never Look Suspicious! by Michael Skolnik

Please Read. No matter how often we think that racism is a thing of the past or that it doesn't happen in my neighborhood or on my watch, it HAPPENS.

No matter how far up the corporate ladder or how far you have made it in the political arena, racism is still alive and well. No, you may not condone it, and no you may not accept it, but it still happens on a daily basis right here in your neighborhood. You do not have to go to Florida, California or any place outside of your hometown, if there is a Black population, racism exist. The following is a piece that struck a nerve with me when I read it. How about you?

White People, You Will Never Look Suspicious! by Michael Skolnik -- I will never look suspicious to you. Even if I have a black hoodie, a pair of jeans and white sneakers fact, that is what I wore yesterday...I still will never look suspicious. No matter how much the hoodie covers my face or how baggie my jeans are, I will never look out of place to you. I will never watch a taxi cab pass me by to pick someone else up. I will never witness someone clutch their purse tightly against their body as they walk by me. I won't have to worry about a police car following me for two miles, so they can "run my plates." I will never have to pay before I eat. And I certainly will never get "stopped and frisked." I will never look suspicious to you, because of one thing and one thing only. The color of my skin. I am white.

I was born white. It was the card I was dealt. No choice in the matter. Just the card handed out by the dealer. I have lived my whole life privileged. Privileged to be born without a glass ceiling. Privileged to grow up in the richest country in the world. Privileged to never look suspicious. I have no guilt for the color of my skin or the privilege that I have. Remember, it was just the next card that came out of the deck. But, I have choices. I got choices on how I play the hand I was dealt. I got a lot of options. The ball is in my court.

So, today I decided to hit the ball. Making a choice. A choice to stand up for Trayvon Martin. 17 years old. black. innocent. murdered with a bag of skittles and a bottle of ice tea in his hands. "Suspicious." that is what the guy who killed him said he looked like cause he had on a black hoodie, a pair of jeans and white sneakers. But, remember I had on that same outfit yesterday. And yes my Air Force Ones were "brand-new" clean. After all, I was raised in hip-hop...part of our dress code. I digress. Back to Trayvon and the gated community in Sanford, Florida, where he was visiting his father.

I got a lot of emails about Trayvon. I have read a lot of articles. I have seen a lot of television segments. The message is consistent. Most of the commentators, writers, op-ed pages agree. Something went wrong. Trayvon was murdered. Racially profiled. Race. America's elephant that never seems to leave the room. But, the part that doesn't sit well with me is that all of the messengers of this message are all black too. I mean, it was only two weeks ago when almost every white person I knew was tweeting about stopping a brutal African warlord from killing more innocent children. And they even took thirty minutes out of their busy schedules to watch a movie about dude. They bought t-shirts. Some bracelets. Even tweeted at Rihanna to take a stance. But, a 17 year old American kid is followed and then ultimately killed by a neighborhood vigilante who happens to be carrying a semi-automatic weapon and my white friends are quiet. Eerily quiet. Not even a trending topic for the young man.

We've heard the 911 calls. We seen the 13 year old witness. We've read the letter from the alleged killer's father. We listened to the anger of the family's attorney. We've felt the pain of Trayvon's mother. For heaven's sake, for 24 hours he was a deceased John Doe at the hospital because even the police couldn't believe that maybe he LIVES in the community. There are still some facts to figure out. There are still some questions to be answered. But, let's be clear. Let's be very, very clear. Before the neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, started following him against the better judgement of the 911 dispatcher. Before any altercation. Before any self-defense claim. Before Travyon's cries for help were heard on the 911 tapes. Before the bullet hit him dead in the chest. Before all of this. He was suspicious. He was suspicious. suspicious. And you know, like I know, it wasn't because of the hoodie or the jeans or the sneakers. Cause I had on that same outfit yesterday and no one called 911 saying I was just wandering around their neighborhood. It was because of one thing and one thing only. Trayvon is black.

So I've made the choice today to tell my white friends that the rights I take for granted are only valid if I fight to give those same rights to others. The taxi cab. The purse. The meal. The police car. The police. These are all things I've taken for granted.

So, I fight for Trayvon Martin. I fight for Amadou Diallo. I fight for Rodney King. I fight for every young black man who looks "suspicious" to someone who thinks they have the right to take away their freedom to walk through their own neighborhood. I fight against my own stereotypes and my own suspicions. I fight for people whose ancestors built this country, literally, and who are still treated like second class citizens. Being quiet is not an option, for we have been too quiet for too long.

-Michael SkolnikMichael Skolnik is the Editor-In-Chief of and the political director to Russell Simmons. Prior to this, Michael was an award-winning filmmaker. Follow him on twitter @MichaelSkolnik

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Leaving town? Going on "spring break?" Want to vote early? Well, no matter what you are going to be doing, IT IS IMPORTANT that you CAST your VOTE in the Maryland Primary.

Early voting centers will be open 10am to 8pm, Saturday, March 24 – Thursday, March 29, 2012, (Sunday Hours Noon – 6:00 p.m.). Voting is convenient, accessible and on your schedule. YOU MAY VOTE AT ANY OF THE EARLY VOTING LOCATIONS.

Prince George’s County Early Voting Center Locations:

Upper Marlboro Community Center 5400 Marlboro Race Track Road, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772

College Park Community Center 5051 Pierce Avenue College, Park, MD 20740

Bowie Library 15210 Annapolis Road Bowie, MD 20715

Wayne K. Curry Sports & Learning Center 8001 Sheriff Road Landover, MD 20785

Oxon Hill Library 6200 Oxon Hill Road Oxon Hill, MD 20745

For more information, contact the Prince George’s County Board of Elections at (301)430-8020

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Community Gardening -- Interested?

Growing Community Gardens A gathering for Prince George’s County gardeners to build community, learn from each other, and gain gardening skills Saturday, March 24, 2012, 10 am – 3 pm University of Maryland Center for Educational Partnership,6200 Sheridan St., Riverdale, MD 20737.

Join us for workshops, a panel discussion, and lunch.

$20 per person

Workshop #1: Plant and Pest Identification and Organic Control by Jon Traunfeld, Director of the University of Maryland Home and Garden Information Center and State Master Gardener Coordinator.

Workshop #2: Garden Planning and Crop Rotation by Elizabeth Olson, Master Gardener and Certified Professional Horticulturalist. Panel Discussion: “Successful Community Gardens” with Esther Mitchell from University of Maryland Extension Master Gardener Coordinator; Alexandria Lippincott, Co-Chair, Sheridan Street Community Garden Club; Dave Kneipp from the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation; and Gül Güleryüz from M-NCPPC.

Register at

Contact Christie Balch at for more information or to register by mail. Sponsored by University of Maryland Extension Prince George’s County Co-sponsored by: Eric C. Olson, Council Member, District 3, Prince George’s County Council Ingrid M. Turner, Council Member, District 4, Prince George’s County Council, MOM’s Organic Market, Prince George's County Farm Bureau, Inc.

University of Maryland Extension programs are open to everyone without regard to race, color, religion, age, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital or parental status, or disability.