VALLEY FORGE, Pa. (ABP) – An American Baptist leader says one tragedy of the Trayvon Martin shooting is that racial profiling is nothing new for African-American boys and even men.
Wearing a hoodie in support of the 17-year-old Florida youth slain Feb. 26 while walking through a gated community to his father’s home carrying a can of tea and candy he had purchased at a convenience store, Aidsand Wright-Riggins, executive director of home page of American Baptist Home Mission Societies, said in a video on the ministry’s website that as a black man he has endured indignities like being stopped by a police officer while walking toward his own home.
Wright-Riggins said not much has changed since the day 30 years ago when as a youth minister he was called a racial epithet and ordered to raise his hands while visiting the home of a white member of his church. He described buying a used car so his son could drive himself to college and having the boy return home hours later saying he didn’t want the car because he was pulled over twice while trying to return to his dorm room.
“It’s dangerous being a young boy driving or walking while being black,” Wright-Riggins said. “So I’m just concerned in our county that we consider giving every person the dignity that is deserving of them.”
In addition to being heartbroken over the tragedy, Wright-Riggins said he is even more troubled by “how guns are so easily accessible and how they can be put into the hands of persons for whom there is absolutely no accountability when they use them.”
“I appeal to all of us, as we look at the millions of persons around us, and particularly those of color, and particularly black boys, that we don’t make an automatic assessment because they might be dressed differently or look differently or somehow feel that they are out of place in our society, that we relegate them to the margins or even worse that we assign them to the morgue,” he said. “So today in memory of Trayvon Martin and the millions of others who face such indignities, we lift our prayers for their families and we lift our prayers for our country. May God bless as we try to find a new and better way.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.