Martin Luther King Jr.'s quote is all too fitting today.
I've been contemplating for a long time about how to approach this post. You don't know how many drafts have been conceived, edited, deleted, and re-written, but I feel such a strong connection to the story of Trayvon Martin's murder, and I knew I had to use this site as an outlet.
By now, I would only hope that everyone reading this has already heard about Trayvon Martin. If not, I'll give you the Coles' notes edition: On February 26th, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon was visiting his father and step-mother's home in a gated community in Sanford, Florida. He left to walk to the corner store and purchased a bag of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea. As he walked back home, he encountered George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old Neighbourhood Watch captain. Zimmerman spotted Trayvon walking through the area and called 911 to report a "suspicious" person. He was instructed to remain in his home, and that 911 was dispatching officers to the area to investigate. Instead of heeding their advice, Zimmerman got in his SUV with his loaded gun and followed Trayvon. What happened next is unknown to everyone except Trayvon and Zimmerman, but within a matter of minutes, Zimmerman shot Trayvon. Police arrived on the scene to the boys' dead body. Zimmerman admitted to the shooting but cried self-defense (they allegedly engaged in a physical altercation). Weeks later, Trayvon's loved ones are still reeling from his death, and at the time of this post, Zimmerman has neither been charged nor arrested.
I'm not sure where to begin, and there aren't enough synonyms for "angry" to describe how I feel. I'm pissed that when Trayvon's father reported him missing, the cops chose to bring a photo the next day of their 'John Doe' with blood pouring out of his mouth. I'm incensed that Zimmerman's pathology of paranoia allowed him to find a 17-year-old boy with a bag of Skittles and bottle of iced tea so threatening. I'm enraged that so many minorities have dreams of escaping the violence of the "hood" or the "ghetto", yet moving on up like the Jeffersons brings it's own new terrors. I am beside myself at the fact that a young, innocent boy is dead, and his killer is free - especially when we all know that if roles were reversed, there would be absolutely no mercy for Trayvon.
I love the naïveté of people who believe we live in a post-racial society, or those folks who think that racism does not exist in Canada. I've called some of those people friends, acquaintances, and co-workers - and one thing they have in common is that they'll never have to teach the young men in their lives how to act around police and other authority figures like I have. The same way society loves to remind women that it's our responsibility to not get raped, society creates the same vortex in which Black men have to shoulder the responsibility to not get pulled over for a DWB (driving while Black), arrested or killed. Where is the demand for control from those who abuse authority, assault, and kill us? I've read that Trayvon shouldn't have been wearing a hoodie, that he should have clearly explained to Zimmerman that he lived in the area, that he should have, should have, should have...I wish those people would instead see that Zimmerman should have listened when the 911 dispatcher advised him to stay home. Maybe then he wouldn't have had to "defend himself" against a young Black boy armed with Skittles and iced tea. I'm not sure how you admit to pursuing someone and then hide behind the legal arm of self-defense when it becomes convenient. Between Trayvon and Zimmerman, who really needed defending?
Late last Friday, 911 calls from the day Trayvon was killed were released. I still haven't been able to listen to the recordings, but all reports describe the same three things. Someone crying and pleading for help. A gunshot. Then complete silence. Zimmerman made sure to state once cops arrived that he "was calling for help and no one came" - but no one seems to believe that Zimmerman could have been the voice pleading for help on the recording. Community residents who placed 911 calls all described the voice of a child, and reports state that when Trayvon's mother heard the recording, she ran from the room in horror. Cops stated that they have found no evidence to dispute Zimmerman's claims of self-defense, so no action has been taken to arrest him. This is where things stand, nearly a month after Trayvon's killing.
There are a few things that I wish:
- I wish that my Facebook and Twitter feeds were flooded with Trayvon Martin details like they were when Kony hit the scene a few weeks ago.
- I wish I had a better way of managing my rage when hearing about my husband being accosted by police because he "looked suspicious", or my brother being followed and pulled over for no specific reason.
- I wish I could ignore the fact that Blacks are consistently snatched up and put under the jail for far less than Zimmerman's crime.
- I wish that I didn't do the ugly snort-laugh when people tell me that justice will be done. It hasn't yet. I'm not holding my breath.
- I wish that there wasn't a racial division in response to this case (in my world). Compared to the reaction of minorities, a number of White friends/colleagues were silent when I spoke about Trayvon. Sure - race might make you uncomfortable. But a child being murdered should garner something more than silence. If you were upset about Kony, you should be upset about this...
- I wish Trayvon Martin wasn't yet another name added to the list of Black males needlessly slaughtered like cattle. Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Emmett Till...
I usually try to write my posts with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion (all you writing buffs don't laugh at me if I don't always succeed!), but this post was written freely and unapologetically. My response to Trayvon's murder has been so organic, so primal, so cellular to my being, and I haven't been able to shake it yet. We'll see how things play out in the days to come, but I continuously send prayers out to Trayvon's soul, the Martin family, and our society as a whole. Hopefully Trayvon will see that while his death was completely premature and wholly unnecessary, it will not be in vain.
Want more details on Trayvon's story? Read here or here (or go 'head on and see what that Google search function is hittin' fo'). Looking for a way to get involved? Change.org is circulating a petition for the prosecution of George Zimmerman - if you're so inclined, sign it here. Also, Twitter has started to mobilize a movement to write into Bill Lee's office (Chief of Police in Sanford, FL) - for details on that (I will be writing my letter tonight) - go here.
Note: As of 11pm on Monday night, CNN reported that federal prosecutors and the FBI have finally opened an investigation into Trayvon's murder.
Any thoughts on this case? Share them below. And as always, thank you for reading.