Trayvon Martin: What his Death Means for Everyone

I cried last week. One of those cries that you lock your room, get on your knees, pray to the heavens and ask the God you pray to why this happened...again. One of the cries that you hope no one walks in on because you won't be able to adequately put into words why you hurt. I hurt for Trayvon Martin, Ramarley Graham and all of the brothers and sisters who have been killed at the hands of white men and never receive justice.

Call me racially incendiary right now. Frankly I don't care. The fact remains the same. A white man, followed a black boy who had no weapon, after being told by dispatchers to stand down. At the end of the confrontation, young Trayvon was dead, and a white man walked away without barely a slap on the wrist. Again...

Some may say that Zimmerman is Hispanic. It is imperative to remember that one can be a white Hispanic as well as a black one. But frankly the race of the assailant has less to do in this story than the race of the victim. Furthermore what truly is important is the impact of race and the way it impacts people regardless of their skin tone. I would be hard pressed to believe that if it were a white teenager in a hoodie, that the results would have been the same. The impact of race on people of color will always disproportionately affect them. Simply black and brown bodies are not valued in the same way that white bodies are.

A few weeks back, young Ramarley Graham was followed into his own house by police who weren't properly trained in street undercover operations and was shot dead in his own bathroom. The most they found on him was a bag of marijuana. "No weapon formed against me shall prosper." Often times that isn't the case. Yet again we have another black boy killed by a white man and nothing happened to the white man in charge.

I am tired of saying again. I am tired of seeing young men who look like me and my brothers, students, friends, family, co workers and the like being killed. I hate it when our own people do it equally as much as when white people do it. But I am incensed when it happens by those that do not look like us and they are able to get away. Parents, families and friends are left wondering why. And very often no answer can be found.

I wake up every morning hoping that my brothers come home at the end of the day. Praying that they don't get killed by someone that looks like them and someone that doesn't. I tell them often how to interact with people in authority, whether its assumed or given. I have the same conversation with former and present students. I let them know that it makes no difference whether you attend Yale, Cornell, or a city university. Your skin tone will be the first thing that authority figures see or take into consideration. Depending on how the situation is handled will make or break whether you live. Its simple as that.

The worst part is that there will be more Trayons. There always are. There will be more men like his shooter Zimmmerman, who are so caught up in racial biases that they will kill innocent black men again. There will be more families crying and burying students because they don't know why their child died. The war on black bodies is an all out assault. We must fight the war in our own communities and unfortunately amongst the communities supposedly in place to protect us. And this is why I cry. I cry because the war is simply too big to fight, too tough to battle and often ends with way too much collateral damage. I just hope in this case, even for a brief moment in time that justice can be served. Unfortunately I will not hold my breath. Because as history has shown, justice never truly is served.


Anonymous said…
You know Zimmerman is hispanic, right?
Cassius said…
1) First of all, being Hispanic does not preclude you from being racist. The racial dynamics within the Hispanic community where the favored offspring are the ones who can pass for white are too well detailed to get into here
2) His last name is Zimmerman, and he looks white. I'm sure the acknowledgement of his Latino roots in this story is a "happy accident"
3) He called the unarmed teenager walking back from a neighborhood grocery store "a Fucking coon" on the 911 dispatch tape. Here was someone clearly blinded by a perceived threat due to his own pre-conceived notions.
4)The overarching question is: what is the value of a black life when so many are taken in vain with little to no reprucussions
5)And what do we do as elder black men do to turn the tide of youth cycling through the same degrading stages of criminality and conspicuous consumption in the pursuit of quick money and access to a materialistic dream?
6)So many are trapped trying to define themselves by what they never had, while simultaneously so many are trying to hunt them down fearing what they might become
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.

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