Trayvon Martin. Trayvon Martin Trayvon Martin. Sadness. Disappointment. Anger. I believe if it had been my son, a white kid, walking through that neighborhood Mr. Zimmerman never would have called the police, never would have gotten out of his car. The judge banned discussion of skin color or “race.” I understand at a trial there can only be talk of what happened not “what might have happened if the victim were white?” or “did this happen because Trayvon was black” or even “we all carry prejudice about darker skinned people.”
Every time I awoke last night Trayvon Martin was in my thoughts; maybe because I fell asleep after checking the verdict on my phone; more probably because I cannot imagine my son being shot. Every darker skinned mother I know has to imagine her son being shot and vaccinate him. She has to tell him how to defer to lighter skinned people and especially the police. My son has a hot temper. We work with him to quell his responses to disappointment and unfairness. If he had dark skin ….
I do not know what happened that day. Only two people really know what happened and one of them is dead. Did Trayvon Martin “come out of nowhere and punch Zimmerman in the nose? Zimmerman did have a bloody nose and Martin did have a broken finger. Or did Zimmerman follow Martin and start a confrontation that ended in his getting his nose broken. Did the one or did the other? We who were not there will not know. “Witnesses” cannot agree. Someone was on top of someone. Someone was yelling for help. We do know that Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin and we do know that Martin was armed only with Skittles. We know that Zimmerman has a past history of violence and Trayvon Martin does not. We know that Martin was having trouble at school. We know the defense researched Martin’s background looking for a reason to blame him – Zimmerman wouldn’t have known any of that history, such as it was. Zimmerman went on his idea of what is a suspicious looking person.
In the end it is a broken system that has denied Trayvon Martin life and in his death denied him justice. The world where a man with a gun wanders his neighborhood looking for suspects is corrupt. Zimmerman was encouraged by laws and our system to do exactly what he did. His prejudice and our racism ended in this tragedy as it does over and over again across the country.
In addition to racism we have a culture of violence. Men encourage one another and their off spring to be violent. Women are becoming more and more violent as well. With a system that values power and winning, violence and the threat of violence keep us all in our places.
Black children, especially black boys, shot and killed by the hundreds every year and we do nothing about it. Black girls go missing and we never hear about it because they are not blond and we do nothing about it. We do nothing about it ….
A colleague posted to Face Book this quote from WEB Dubois, “A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.” The system protects my privilege and power. It protects my children and land. It eliminates safety and power of darker skinned people. The system has not changed how can we expect the outcomes to be any different?
We must seek ways to change the system. It just doesn’t seem to be enough. I weep for Trayvon and his parents. I weep.