Monday, March 26, 2012

On Trayvon Martin

Those close to me often hear me use the term "memories."  It has actually almost become a mantra for a few of my close friends and the way we live our lives.  We talk about making the most out of the time we have, and if we aren't living to make memories then we probably aren't living at all. 

As I listen and follow Tray's story it becomes increasingly difficult for me to internalize it.  This kid never even had a chance.  At only 17 years old his life was just getting started.  No 18th birthday, no senior prom, no graduations, no 21st birthday, no college, no kids, and now nothing left but his spirit.  No longer will he have the chance to make memories, but memories, in fact, are now all that his family and friends have to remember him by. 

Why? Because human beings for some unconscionable reason cannot find a way to live without hating one another.  Specifically hate for anyone who looks, sounds, smells, or talks differently than they do.  That is what it boils down to and that is why, among many reasons, this story makes me so angry.   

We held a student education day this year at a Lake Erie Monsters game.  The central focus of the entire event was to teach our kids about respect.  To make sure the youth of our community understand the importance of treating others as you would want to be treated.  We're all different and unique.  Not everyone is going to be in your group of friends or believe in what you believe in.  The human race has never and will never allow for all people to be the same.  We should be thankful for that every single day, but instead we choose to let it fill us with hate.  I guess my point is, how the hell can we teach our kids about respect when things like this happen?  Hate is such an enormously powerful and scary emotion.  It can drive a human being to pull out a gun and shoot a 17-year-old teenager in the chest.  And because he looks different?  In my opinion, there is not a more cowardly act that can be committed. 

Guns coupled with hate are a disastrous and lethal combination.  And now unnecessarily we've lost another young black man.  It is ever going to stop?  Probably not.  That doesn't mean we can't fight.  Social media can be a very dangerous tool, but in this case it has brought this story to homes across the entire country.  I hope that it can be an opportunity for us all to hold our society accountable for the intolerance that still exists. Change is driven by energy, commitment and passion.  It won't happen on its own.  Live your life to love, not to hate.


I thought it unlikely that I'd see a black president in my lifetime.  Shows what I know.  Now I'm wondering if I'll live to see the day when a young black man walking down the street is not, as a matter of course, suspicious.  Turns out that's the taller order.  Critics who said the 'stand your ground' law would be a license to murder can now call checkmate on that argument.  Trayvon Martin, armed with a bag of Skittles, got shot for having the gall to pass through a neighborhood clad in dark skin.  Yeah, and he was also wearing a hoodie.  I own a hoodie.  I have two of them.  They're comfortable.  They keep me warm.  I wear them often.  I wear them in public.  No one has ever looked twice, let alone stalked me, pulled a semiautomatic pistol, opened fire and blown a hole in my chest.

If I could have switched my skin for Trayvon's, I gladly would have.  If he could have shed his black and slipped into my white for the duration of that walk, I'm sure he would have survived the night.  I'm sure he would have gone unnoticed--hoodie or not--by the murdering cowboy wannabe of a neighborhood watchman.  But why should I even be thinking that way?  Trayvon wasn't.  He was walking.  And talking on his phone.  And wearing a hoodie.  And minding his own business.  All of it legal.  None of it suspicious.  George Zimmerman had only to let him walk away, as he was instructed by the police to do.

In the aftermath, local authorities seemed satisfied with Zimmerman's tale of self-defense.  I have to believe he will eventually go to prison.

Or else it's open season in Florida, and black men are big game.


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