Author Walter Mosley addresses George Zimmerman's acquittal at the Daily Beast by relating a powerful and lasting lesson on racism that he received as a teen from his father in 1969, which was that "living in the land of the free doesn’t make you free."
I remember when I was 17 years old, in 1969; three of my friends dropped by in one of their cars and asked me if I wanted to go out with them to the beach or the woods, I forget which. I told my father that I was going and he came out to see my friends. He knew them all and liked them. I went to high school with two of them.
“I’ll see you later,” I said to my dad.
“OK, Walter, but let me tell you something first. If the police stop you guys, your friends will be going home and you will go to jail.”
These particular friends were young, long-haired white kids.
My father was telling me, teaching me that my rights and those of my friends were not the same in midcentury America. People were watching me, suspecting me, fearing and hating me. Not all people. Not all white people. But there was an active shooting range on the streets of every big city in the country, and there was an indelible target on every black man’s chest and head.
Living in the land of the free doesn’t make you free — that’s what my father taught me.
Read Walter Mosley's entire piece at the Daily Beast.
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.