God Bless the United States of America.
When you look at the other alternatives, it is pretty nice here. It is difficult to be Black here though on most days. The current reminder of where Blacks in America fall in the value system has social media afire with outrage following the death of one Trayvon Martin.
The case is not necessarily unique. Black men and Black youth have often been beaten, injured, and in some cases killed. At times it’s drawn headlines, at other times its drawn anger, other times grief. The history of the American Black is something that is so unique, and so recent that the after effects of it are still very much a part of our social DNA.
The Martin case on its surface doesn’t appear to be very complex:
Trayvon Martin was walking home after going to a local store to purchase Iced Tea and candy. The time was around 7pm EST, just a couple of weeks before Daylight Savings Time turned the clocks forward.
Martin was observed in this gated community by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old adult male who patrolled the neighborhood in a volunteer town watch type capacity.
Zimmerman spotted Martin, and made a telephone call to 9-1-1, calling Martin and his behavior suspicious.
Minutes later at the conclusion of some type of scuffle, Martin was dead from a gun shot.
That is what we KNOW happened…there is much more that we do not know…much more that will go unasked and unsaid.
We can discuss George Zimmerman who was not a sworn officer, not even an official town watch member or captain. He is a man who made it his purpose to watch and keep out the undesirables, the kids, the punks, perhaps even the Blacks.
We can discuss how Zimmerman was more than likely the aggressor in this case. His call to 9-1-1 should have been enough, yet it was not for him. He chose instead to follow Martin, to observe his behavior. At some point we have to assume that he engaged Martin, either because he directly approached Martin, or Martin challenged Zimmerman for following him.
We know that Zimmerman had a gun, we know this because Martin is dead, and Zimmerman admits to shooting him. We know that apparently Zimmerman was in possession of that gun legally, because as of March 18, Zimmerman has not been charged with anything, not even a citation for jaywalking.
We know that Zimmerman was bigger than Martin.
We know that the laws of this jurisdiction are vague enough that Zimmerman’s assertion that he felt his life was in danger could allow him to walk away from this case with only his conscience to answer to for the rest of his life.
Those are the things that we know about this man:
What we do not currently know is:
What happened after Zimmerman hung up with the police dispatcher and his engagement with Martin. We know that Zimmerman had a bloody nose. We know that Zimmerman had bruises, contusions, and blood on the back of his head. That is evidence of a scuffle…one that possibly Zimmerman was getting the worse of at the time.
We know that Zimmerman was treated at the scene by medical personnel, and that in his statement to police, he indicates that he was in fear for his life.
What we do not know is if this man is telling the truth about that. Until one of us can read his mind, we can not know without a doubt that Zimmerman did not fear for his life. We can speculate, as all of us who know about this case are, but we can not know.
What do we know about this man:
Well I should say boy. You can look at this photo, or any of the other photos that the family has supplied the media and immediately understand that he was just a boy. He was not even old enough to vote, and he was young enough to think that iced tea and skittles were a good snack.
He was not armed.
He has not been accused of doing anything illegal.
He is dead.
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I am the mother of a Black son. He is 11 and almost 5 feet tall. He is incredibly strong and fast for someone his size. He has Autism. He is non verbal.
I am kept awake at night more than many of my contemporaries because not only do I have to try to raise a Black man in an America that finds the Black man disposable but:
I have to keep him away from the bad influences in our neighborhood
I have to keep him away from situations where there is the possibility that he would be confronted by the police, because he does not always understand, he does not always comply, and I know that the mentality of the police is to eliminate the perception of danger, and go home to your family.
When situations like this arise, I am reminded that I also have to keep my child safe from everything else, including the George Zimmermans of the world who would find him suspect because of the color of his skin.
As the mother of a Black son, I relate much more to Martin’s mother and father. I cry as they cry with the inconsolable pain that comes with having to bury your child. That pain compounded with the thought that he was gone because someone was at the very least reckless.
As the semi militant woman who I have aged to become, I am angry that Zimmerman didn’t leave well enough alone, and that he felt empowered to approach Martin.
As a Black woman I mourn the loss of one of my children, int he same manner that I mourn the children that died hundreds of years ago as gator bait.
I can not reach a definitive conclusion about Zimmerman’s level of fault, and I want to encourage others to withhold judgement as well.
Take the emotion out of your statements….operate from a place of calm.
There are petitions rushing about asking for Justice for Trayvon, without the understanding that what is legal and what is just does not always intersect in America.
What has to happen, is that the case must be judged on its merits, not its emotions and the conclusion must support the law of the jurisdiction.
We must now allow our anguish as a race to over take our need to demand equality. The connection seems tenuous but it is not….not at all.
While our Black President has to govern a people who produce bumper stickers that have slogans like Don’t Re-Nig…it is equality that we need. It is equality that we deserve and equality that we must demand. Part of that process is that we understand, if not like, that George Zimmerman may never be legally charged in the death of Trayvon Martin.
If you set aside the “Stand Your Ground” statue that the media is tossing about you can look at the law in the state of Florida which is:
“776.012. Use of force in defense of person