I woke up this morning and outside of all of the other thoughts that
ran through my mind, prayers and all was this:
You can now die just for having a bag of candy and an iced tea. If you’re
a young Black male, that is.
Trayvon Martin, only 17 years old, was murdered on February 26th in Sanford,
Florida after going to a convenience store just because he wanted a snack for
his younger brother. George Zimmerman, the 26-year old captain of the neighborhood
watch, saw Trayvon and immediately called 911. They advised him to back off. It’s
on tape. Yet Zimmerman confronted Trayvon, and as a result Trayvon died from one
9mm gunshot wound to the chest. Claiming self-defense in the guise of Florida’s
‘Stand Your Ground’ law, Zimmerman was let go. And remains free. And that is
the inherent, but all too familiar tragedy. As a Black man in the United States, it
is a tragedy that looms as a possible future for me, even now. It always has. I
think about how many times, growing up in Southeast Queens, that my mother
would caution me to be careful, to be aware. How she would worry if I didn’t call,
or until I called or came home. I know why she worried. She didn’t want my name
to be added to that long ledger known as Dying While Black. And as I get older,
I see just how real that fear is day by day.
Zimmerman is supposedly a white Latino which makes this all the more troubling
combined with the other elements of this murder. I use the word ‘murder’ because
that’s what this is. I use it so that I know, and you know from readng this, that there
is no room to evade or hide from that. Zimmerman has had issues before. He had been
alleged to have forcibly escorted a person out of the mostly white, gated community.
There were complaints about his behavior. And riddle me this: who would issue a
NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH CAPTAIN a 9MM handgun? Or allow that to take place? Or
even install someone who has been arrested in 2005 for assault of a police officer and
resisting arrest to be in that position? Zimmerman’s father issued a statement saying
that his son wasn’t racist. I think his father is deluded. Because listening to the 911 call,
you can hear the uneasiness in his son’s tone. The wary inflections. The tone that usually
says, ‘You don’t belong here.’ HE INITIATED THE INCIDENT. Yet the police let him go, and
confound their blunder by sitting on the 911 tapes and then releasing them on a Friday
in the middle of March Madness, when they felt no one would make them notable.
I’ve heard all the tapes. Heard someone scream for help. And I can’t help but think of
what Trayvon’s last moments were. I can’t help but think about how his parents felt,
knowing they’d never see him come through their front doors again. I can’t help but
think of my godmother’s nephew who was jumped and murdered just a few years ago
and no one was ever charged. I can’t help but think that Zimmerman’s aggression and
attitude was yet another construct of a society that views young people of color as a
threat, so much so that a law called ‘Stand Your Ground’, with severely broad interpretations
on the basis of how self-defense as a right can be used. If it seems like I’m angry, I am.
And i’m sad because even with a Black president, young lives of color are still seen by
many as nothing more than the price of an Arizona Iced Tea and a bag of Skittles. It
hurts to read about something like this, hurts more for parents to go through it. And it
hurts us as a nation that this still goes on. Which is why Zimmerman needs to be
arrested and brought to trial. Enough is enough.
Sign the petition here:
Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 11:28AM