(The following article was written back in 2012 for a campus newspaper.)
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
About an hour ago, I was procrastinating, checking facebook, and I happened to notice an article about “Racist Hunger Games Fans being Disappointed.” I immediately stopped what I was doing and opened up the link. As I read on, I only become more angry and disheartened.
To give a little background, the Hunger Games is a series of books about children being forced to fight to the death. In one part of the book a young girl, 12 years old, dies in the arena. Katniss, the main character, disgregards all rules and stops to bury her. Her death is one of the saddest parts of the entire series, and one of the most moving pieces of literature I’ve read in a while. When I saw it on screen, it was even more polarizing and hearbreaking. It was perfect. In my mind, nothing could ruin this scene. And then I saw this:
I couldn’t believe my eyes..and he wasn’t the only one who felt that way.
People that live in this country came out and said that a 12-year-olds death in a movie wasn’t as sad because she was black. I cannot process that sentence. There is no sense in it. I didn’t care for the counterargument “i didn’t picture Rue as black” or “that’s not how I saw Rue”. All I could see was a wall of ignorance and bias. It was one of the most sickening things I have ever seen.
I have to highlight these sentiments towards Rue because of recent events. A few weeks ago, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old black male, was wearing a hoodie and carrying skittles when he was shot and killed in broad daylight. The man who shot him claimed he looked suspicious so that was enough of a reason. His ignorance and bias disgusts the nation.
I make similarities between these events, but don’t want to portray the wrong idea. I’m not saying that everyone who thought Rue should’ve been white is going to go out and shoot suspicious looking people. Nor am I saying that the man who shot Trayvon Martin did so out of bias he learned in the media. What I am saying is that when these two events occur within only weeks of each other, that when it comes to race relations in this country:
We are not there yet.
There is still work to do, and these events highlight the fact. The younger generation is more liberal, more open, but if we are going to change the climate in this country, it starts with paying attention to ignorance. It may start with a misunderstanding in the street, or a twitter post. Either way we must counter ignorance with spreading knowledge. The knowledge that these things have happened and that we should try and make a world where they won’t happen again.
I speak not only for blacks, but for Puerto Ricans, Jamaicans and people from Queens. I extend this message to all races and backgrounds. Fight ignorance and spread knowledge. Then we become one step closer to never seeing articles like these again.
Last thoughts. When I first read the hunger games books, I thought of my little sister. She’s 13 now, but 11 when I read the books. My sister acts, and maybe even could have been cast in the role. The thought of no one crying for her…I can’t process that.
So if you can, please take some time to learn about Trayvon Martin. Send messages of support and love to Amanda Stenburg for an amazing performance. And remember a little girl named Rue, surrounded by flowers and sung to softly as she lay dying…not what the color of her skin was.