Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Details Are Background Noise; Trayvon Was Murdered

The case of Trayvon Martin has shaken many of us to our core and for some, the case is slightly more personal because it highlighted a dark secret America has long held….a secret that seemed taboo to speak about and politically incorrect to address – America fears young men of color.

Many would say that myths and legends have a start in truth. A volcano erupts and the villagers begin a rumor-turned-myth that an angry God lives in the mountain. There are a million different stories that can substantiate some stereotypes-turned-myths-turned irrational fears. Sadly, some have turned these irrational fears into a terrifying reality that will have some folks justifying killing a man of color simply for being present; somehow our mere presence sends-up a red flag for some; for some, men of color trigger a fight or flight response.

As a man of color I’m perplexed by the reaction some folks may have to me. I’ve seen [first-hand] as some women move their purse to the opposite side of where I’m standing; I’ve been privy to the young white man who gets off the elevator before it leaves the lobby so we’re not sharing the ride.

America can now have the conversation that starts with, “…there is good and bad in all men.” Rather than elaborate further, I’d urge everyone to take a look at who you’re pre-judging and to make a conscious effort to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Now I’m not saying that you should turn-off your God-given fight/flight response to danger (if you feel it, do something about it) but that something should more than likely be run and avoid danger, rather than run to meet it head-on.

Ultimately, Trayvon Martin was murdered in cold blood on a street in Florida. Whether he was a clean-cut kid or a homicidal maniac doesn’t matter. The truth is that George Zimmerman was instructed by the 9-1-1 operator to remain in his vehicle and to NOT pursue Trayvon. He chose to ignore that order. Did Trayvon strike George first? The answer is irrelevant. I would hope that my son would fight for his life if a stranger confronted him on the street baring a weapon

Was Trayvon a good kid? Is George a racist? Was Trayvon looking for trouble that night? Did George see something really suspicious? Who struck out first? ALL of these questions and their respective answers are moot; You see, sometimes the details of a story are just background noise. Trayvon is dead. Murdered at the hands of a man instructed to stay in his vehicle; shot to death by a weapon totting neighborhood watch vigilante.

Keep passin' the open windows...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Me, My Partner, My Son & Trayvon Martin

After hundreds – maybe thousands – of investigative reports, studies and even personal experiences, America is finally coming to terms with our not-so-covert-racism issue and our irrational fear of men of color. Whether the fear is real or imagined is less relevant than why anyone would have a fear of a segment of the population based strictly on their gender and/or color of their skin.

Today, Trayvon Martin, 17, lies dead. His killer, George Zimmerman called 9-1-1 to report that he was witnessing a suspicious man walking through the neighborhood. The man he was referring to was Trayvon. In Trayvon’s possession at the time of death, were a bag of skittles and an iced tea – hardly weapons of mass destruction or a hold-up even. Before killing Trayvon, police asked Zimmerman to remain in his vehicle and not to pursue the young man, but he disregarded their orders, trailed the young man, confronted him and then shot him – in what Zimmerman alleges was self defense.

When I first heard the story of Trayvon I thought that more information would surface that would show why Zimmerman was forced to shoot and kill him. That information never came. Instead, I was treated to a horrific barrage of audio and eyewitness accounts of an innocent teenager who returning from a trip to the store was followed, cornered and murdered by a strange man – one he clearly feared based on his cries for help heard by eyewitnesses before the fatal shots were fired.

Sure, Trayvon isn’t related to us directly, but as a man of color, I am Trayvon. My son is Trayvon. My partner is Trayvon. Why would my wearing a hoodie be suspicious to anyone, if the same hoodie would not be seen as suspicious on a Caucasian man?

Trayvon’s senseless murder is getting the attention it deserves. I am disgusted with the police department and justice department handling the case in Florida. Most of all, I grieve with the parents of Trayvon who have to watch their son’s killer walk free; still in possession of the weapon that killed their child.

I don’t subscribe to vigilante justice, but I do believe in karma as life’s equalizer. You may think it a whimsical wish to think that George Zimmerman will have to pay – in his lifetime – for the cowardly murder of Trayvon, but I know it to be true. Whether he burns in hell is between George and his creator, but before he ever gets there, he will settle the score for Trayvon right here.

Sign the petitions asking for justice for Trayvon that are circulating around the web and contact your legislators. It’s fine to complain, mope and groan to your family and friends, but let your voice be heard by those who have the power to affect change. Do it for all the Trayvons – including myself – who walk the streets innocently, but because of the color of our skin, we are somehow a threat…suspicious…requiring lethal force to stop us from getting home with our bag of Skittles.

RIP Trayvon…your short life will not be in vain.

Keep passin' the open windows...