Saturday, April 07, 2012

Contemplations of Trayvon

By now, you have heard about the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Trayvon, 17 years old, walking through a gated community in pouring rain and wearing a hoodie, is followed, confronted and ultimately shot and killed by George Zimmerman. George was the neighborhood watch captain for the area who, as he observed Trayvon moving through the community, felt suspicious- so suspicious that he called 911. Against the counsel of the 911 operators, Zimmerman follows- no, stalks and hunts down the young man. Somehow a struggle ensues and in the end, an unarmed, innocent teenager is dead. Shot at close range by an overzealous neighborhood watchman.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As I contemplate this tragedy, I realize that black males are an increasingly endangered species. Even as some have proclaimed that America is now a "post-racial society",  we are seeing an increase in race based violence. Even as we have placed a black man in the highest political office in the land, hatred, prejudice, racism is all around us. In the words of my late mother, "the more things change, the more they stay the same", a mantra she repeated time and again as she watched the progress of the Civil Rights Movement. The tragedy of Trayvon is a reflection of what is happening all over our nation. The worth of a black life is devalued even the more. And yes, when I look upon the image of Trayvon Martin, I know that he could be my son. My neighbor. My nephew. The youngster at church. One of my interns. Yes, As I look around the community, I see millions of Trayvons. It is sad but true that one could send their teen to the corner store and that young man may never return to the home alive.                                                                                                                                                      And so, the masses are in an uproar. Protest across the nation abound. We see the usual suspects - Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton et. al. making a stand for justice for Trayvon. Across the nation, folk are wearing hoodies. They are changing their facebook profile pics. The Hoodie is a national symbol of protest against racial profiling.. The entire Miami Heat Team took the court wearing hoodies. Congressman Bobby Rush wore a hoodie as he addressed that great body and was summarily reprimanded.                                                                                                                                         Yes. We want Justice for Trayvon.  But then what of the others? Those who have been wrongly killed by police? What about the more prevalent issue of black on black murder? Indeed, we are just as, if not more, dangerous to our own selves than any white man. There are thousands of unsolved murders in Los Angeles County involving black male vs. black male. What about Justice for them? Wheres the outrage for this aspect of violence against the black male? As we take to the streets and demand justice for Trayvon and others like him - as we demand and protest that a black life is valuable, not to be thrown away and discarded like a soiled napkin, why not demand justice for our own, killed by our own. As we demand respect for a black life, why don't we check ourselves and have respect for our own?  Justice for Trayvon? Absolutely. But we must look inward and demand justice for us.          "Just-Us."


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