Thursday, March 22, 2012

Trayvon Martin

For the last several days, one of the last things I do before bed is read articles like this one:

Police ignored witness whose account was different from Zimmerman’s.“One of the witnesses who heard the crying said she called a detective repeatedly, but said he was not interested becau
se her account differed from Zimmerman’s.”

And this one:

Mr. Zimmerman's unnecessary pursuit and confrontation of Trayvon Martin elevated the prospect of a violent episode and does not seem to be an act of self-defense as defined by the castle doctrine. There is no pr
otection in the "Stand Your Ground" law for anyone who pursues and confronts people.

I go to sleep. I wake up a few hours later and start reading again, articles like this:

According to his mother Trayvon was a happy child who loved to play sports and wanted to fly planes. I know him. I mean, I’ve met plenty of Trayvons in my life. He loved math and wanted to be an engineer and loved to work with his hands.

And this:

Can you imagine the scenario if the races had been reversed, and a beefy, armed black civilian patrolling his neighborhood had fatally shot a slim, white teenager whose hoodie filled him with dread?

Also this:

I fight for every young black man who looks "suspicious" to someone who thinks they have the right to take away their freedom to walk through their own neighborhood. I fight against my own stereotypes and my own suspicions. I fight for people whose ancestors built this country, literally, and who are still treated like second class citizens. Being quiet is not an option, for we have been too quiet for too long.

I sit at my computer with my black son safely tucked into bed and feel an aching tightness in my chest, tears burning in the inner corners of my eyes as I look at photos like this of the Million Hoodie March in NYC's Union Square.

I wish I could have been there. I would have taken both of our kids and rounded up as many of my friend's kids as would have let me. This is an important lesson.

I haven't told my kids about this yet. I'm dreading it. My son isn't even five. When he's in his bed at night I always go look at him. His beautiful lips poof out in slumber. His skin is perfect and glowing. His eyelashes rest on his cheeks and his arms are often raised above his head in a frozen sleepy stretch. That is my baby. I put a photo of our sleeping kids on fb a few weeks ago, and a cousin of mine in another state commented, "Gracious! Your babies are beautiful!" It's true. You should see them.

What gets me more than anything is the uncovering of this truth in the African-American community of the very specific "rules" parents must teach their black sons on how to survive. I read articles like this:

It’s tough finding the balance between encouraging
a black boy to storm the world with confidence and at the same time to fear for his life. But that’s what I must do. I know that at this very moment some have just sucked their teeth in disgusted disbelief and decided that I’m exaggerating. I wish that I was. I’m not. If I were, Trayvon would be alive.

Then I read this one and my heart breaks into thousands of sharp, angry pieces:

It’s unlikely but possible that you could get killed today. Or any day. I’m sorry but that’s the truth. Blackmaleness is a potentially fatal condition. I tell you that not to scare you but because knowing that could possibly save your life.

Tonight at Beti's school, I got into a conversation with a
n African American mother about this topic of the "rules" we must teach our sons. She completely agreed. Her son is ten, and after the murder of Trayvon Martin, she sat him down and went over these rules. Rules like, "Don't run in a neighborhood" and "No matter how disrespectful someone is being to you, never talk back" and "Never ever go into a neighborhood where you don't know anybody, and if anybody asks what you're doing there, respectfully tell them your friend's name and which house it is." Her son is ten. This afternoon in Beti's class, he and a couple of his classmates interrupted "choice time" for "Poetry Break." He was carrying a big sign announcing what they were doing. His poem was about spring, about green, about things blooming, about life. Yet he is a threat. A ten-year-old poet.

In about ten years time, our son might be walking down the street to go to our local market to buy a soda with friends. If things in this country remain the same, it's highly likely that someone who thinks my baby looks "suspicious" will either, at best, alert the neighborhood watch or call the cops, or at worst, do what Zimmerman did in Florida.
As responsible parents who love our son, we must prepare him for the reality of what he will face in his "blackmaleness."

I cannot let this go. I have become a person obsessed with justice. I am not by nature a community activist or organizer but if someone in my city doesn't organize a Million Hoodie March soon, I may just become that person. It's all I think about. Can someone please tell me where to go where I can march with my home-made sign demanding justice? Someone? Constantly barraging my friends' fb newsfeed with news about this case isn't cutting it for me.

I need some outlet for this rage I have been feeling for the last week.

For the time being, I'm writing this here and hoping anyone who reads this will click on this link to sign this petition. It's a tiny thing that I can do. Please sign. If you have ever seen my baby boy's face, either in a photo or in person, do it for him. I cannot live with the thought that this killer Zimmerman is out free tonight. I can't bear it.


There is no fiercer love than Mama love.


Sharon said...

With you.

Coffeemom said...

Lori, I've been doing the same thing as you. Exactly. This breaks and grips my heart. I gaze at my sons....8..5..&my heart clutches in both fear and fury. My Anthony will grow to be a very big strong young man,much larger than trayvon. I have been teaching him that the strongest men are gentle and kind. Now I have to sit him down and teach him more rules....I knew of those rules too and knew I'd have to teach him eventually...when he had a bigger awareness of this world. And now I lie awake wondering, when? Now? He's 8! Do i destroy his sweet loving view of our world, so young? Idk.
My heart breaks for that family, for trayvon. And worries over my sweet sons. For all our sons.

The Busters said...

It's all I think about too. I just emailed a friend and vented that there isn't any kind of rally or prayer vigil scheduled for our city. I too feel the need to go march the streets. I think I cry about this 2-3 times a day. I will see Trayvon's beautiful face and just burst into tears. How is this Zimmerman walking free? I can't get over it. Prayers for justice and for Trayvon's family and for all our souls.

Chris and Sarah said...

Totally with you... from the mother of one black boy to another...

Ajlounyinjurylaw said...

I have no tears for Trayvon Martin. I have a fear that if I start to cry, I may never stop. I might remember the many that have been killed with no justice. RIP Trayvon.

Katie said...

This is an article about a little boy in Ithica organizing his own march