So much of my time has been flooded with thoughts of Trayvon Martin. I considered putting my thoughts into one concise piece, but it’s too overwhelming because there are so many factors.
Let me first share this.
The day the 911 tapes were made public, my son listened. About two hours after he heard the tapes, there was a shooting in front of his school. We left the building about 45minutes before a girl (not a student) was shot. Earlier that same morning a car hit his friend. The culmination of these tragic events caused my son to have a panic attack. In his fury and rage, amidst screams of sheer terror, I heard profound questions and statements for a child that is yet a teenager: “He was almost home.” “He just wanted a snack.” “What if I had after-school (activities) and Mommy got shot? I’d have no parents.” “I’m never going back to school.” “I’m never going back to Florida.” “Why does everyone have to die?” “He (Zimmerman) even said he (Martin) was heading towards the entrance. An entrance is also an exit! He was trying to get away. I heard him (Zimmerman) say that.” It took three of us to subdue him. Yes, he had to be physically subdued. As a collapsed crumbled ball on my mudroom floor, my son wept. His one brother wept with him. His other brother just held him silently. His other brother was furious, cause he felt what I felt…helplessness. So while I am struggling to comprehend all the dynamics in the Trayvon Martin murder, I acknowledge that my son’s struggle with understanding his place in the world right now is greater than mine.
So, I am physically and emotionally not in a place to package my thoughts neatly. Instead, I am simply gathering snippets that I wrote in emails with friends or my Facebook statuses from March 9th till today. There is no order…well, because clearly, there IS no order.
-Update: George Zimmerman has yet to be charged in the murder of Trayvon Martin. It is fair to say that I am slowly becoming obsessed with this case. Self defense? He called the police because he was aware of a "suspicious person". He was told not to confront the person and a patrol car was being dispatched. Yet he LEFT the safety of his vehicle with a weapon to confront the unarmed teen and killed him. How is that self-defense? Zimmerman had a gun. Martin had $22, Skittles and an Arizona Ice Tea with no intent or display of aggression/malice to the community in which he belonged. The only notions of aggression or malice attached to his actions are laced in the racial social construction of what it means to be a black young man. The "image" of Martin, the beliefs attached to his black body, are SO dangerous that it warrants self-defense for an armed White man with a history of violence? And the police co-sign? If Zimmerman wants to plead self-defense, let a jury decide! Arrest him already. I HATE this story.
- My thoughts in route to work; Pres Obama, I heard you when Skip Gates was profiled. Pres Obama, I even heard you when Kanye West interrupted the Grammy's. Pres Obama, I need to hear you now. I need more than condolences to The Martin family. Before your remarkable achieved status, is your ascribed status; that of a black male. You, Sir, were once Trayvon Martin. This citizen needs to hear you.
Post script: My attorney friends explain why President Obama could not make a comment and if he did, that he could potentially be damaging an open investigation. Additionally, President Obama did answer press questions about Trayvon Martin today.
- My thoughts in route from work: My students today repeatedly made the commentary "If Trayvon Martin were White, this wouldn't of happen." Do I agree? Yes. Haunting my heart, however, is the question "If George Zimmerman were Black, would the nation be up in arms?" Let's bare our souls, family, and be honest. We have come to accept Black on Black violence, Black boys killing Black boys as just another day's events. It is not until "The Other" slaughters a young, Black male do we begin to speak of the preciousness of their lives. I saw a post from a Black female friend overseas that asked "My son is 17 in America, is he safe?" No, he is not...but he never was.
-A Message To My Friend Bill
I am a reader. I don't like being read to. I don't watch the videos when I see a new article on the Internet. I need to read each word and run my fingers over certain words to truly understand. However, I made the "mistake" of going on line and hitting the arrow in the middle of the screen that played the audio of the 911 calls in Sandford, Fl. Bill, I've spent the last hour trying to come back from the dark place it took me. I've been following this case diligently for the past three weeks, but it wasn't till today that I cried. To hear the wails of Trayvon Martin screaming for help is causing my soul to burn. I weep when I realize that his mother and father have had to hear the sounds of their son dying. The world can listen to the sounds of their son dying, yet no one, no institution has come to their aid and arrested this man. Arrest George Zimmerman. Arrest the responding officers. With each cry Trayvon made for his life, I felt my life long personal politics and spiritual stance on the death penalty begin to escape out my body and that scares me. To know that Zimmerman can feel the sun on his face, can inhale the smells of the living and can also hear the cries of the manchild he slaughtered makes me confused by a cornucopia of emotions I am overwhelmed with, in a way I didn't know I was capable of feeling. How many more seconds must this mother endure the torture of having her son's murderer be held unaccountable for his death? Our living is not to be in vain. Damn, Bill. Damn.
-Response to a Facebook status:
As the mother of four sons, yes, it could have been any of our sons...but I pray that is not the only reason our heartaches over this story. Globally, whether you have been the vehicle to allow a black boy to enter this earth or not, we should be outraged that an unarmed child was slaughtered by an adult. The child was hunted. The child begged for help, yet his life was taken. Globally, we should be outraged that a local police officer/s acted as judge and jury and did not arrest Zimmerman. Globally, we should be outraged that the sounds of a child screaming for his life have been recorded for his parents to have to hear...for the world to hear...yet justice has yet to been served. Yes, I too can personally connect to being a mother of two Black teenaged boys...but as humans, we must counter the attack on our black boys. That the "image" of his black body in this predominately white neighborhood was grounds to consider him suspicious is problematic. I cannot bring myself to cast judgment of those who called the police versus going outside. My pray is that some of that audio footage, although horrific, will help bring justice for Trayvon Martin. My continued prayers for all.
A text message conversation with my friend’s 12 year old daughter:
12yrs: Did you hear about Trayvon Martin?
Me: Yes, baby. I’ve been following the case since the beginning. Have you spoken to your Mom or Dad about it? (I then called her parents to ask if they wanted me to continue this conversation with their daughter. They agreed.)
12yrs: Yea, it’s so sad. I wish I could do something but I can’t really.
Me: Oh no! That is not true, young lady. You can 1) Stay in prayer for him and his family. 2) You can write a letter to the Sandford Mayor and/or the police department 3) You can send a card to his family. We can ALWAYS do something, baby girl.
12yrs: I think I’ll write a letter. And also, in a recording, they said the killer’s number.
Me: Yes, but you shouldn’t call him. Let the authorities worry about him. We should write letters to those who need us the most. Trayvon’s family and those with the power to arrest Zimmerman.
12yrs: Yea, but the authorities let him go scott-free (Scotch-free) which is what makes me mad.
Me: Yes, baby, they did. There is a law in Florida called “Standing your ground” that came out in 2005. It is under that law, why they are saying they let him go. It is a terrible injustice. You have the right to be mad. I am very mad and upset myself. It’s been three weeks now and it hurts my heart deeply.
12yrs: Can’t they change the law?
Me. Well, that’s part of the things that we can do as citizens. We can write letters to Gov. Bush asking to rethink/repeal the law. That’s why you should never feel helpless. You have a voice in this world. You can always us it to help someone and make it a better place.
Me: Big hug, sweetie.
- I know it seems small, but my blood boils when I hear the term "The Trayvon Martin Case" on the news and in writings. We did the same thing to Rodney King..."The Rodney King Case." Trayvon Martin is guilty of nothing. Trayvon Martin does not have a "case". Trayvon Martin will never had a "case". Trayvon Martin is not on trial. Shit, at this point, George Zimmerman doesn't even have a "case"! Let's work on making that happen and leave the term associated with criminal activity AWAY from Trayvon Martin's name.
- "I am Trayvon Martin" has been the FB status of many with photos of themselves in hoodies. I understand. I understand 100%. I don't challenge it. I don't question the movement or the stance. In fact, my FB profile picture is that of all four of my sons with hoodies on. I must confess, however, that I am not ready to see Trayvon's face replaced yet. I have yet to fully learn and appreciate who he was as a person. Ergo, I am definitely not ready for him to become a symbol. I want to know who this 17 year old boy was in his lifetime. I want to celebrate what he made happy, what brought him joy. I want to know everything I can, some tangible information that can keep him human and alive for as long as possible. He was his mother's son. He was his father's son. He was a sibling. A cousin. A classmate. A teammate. He was a manchild. He was not a hoodie. I never met him but I'm not ready to let "him" go.