A few months ago, I was having a discussion with a friend of mine. We were discussing our teenaged boys who are heading toward graduation in June. They are best friends, one white, one black. We were talking about a party they wanted to attend in an area neither of us were that fond of. In our discussion I expressed that I felt that my son was safer in this area at times than he was in our very own neighborhood.
Tuesday, she asked me if I'd heard about the Trayvon Martin story, I had not, I don't really watch TV & I'd been pretty busy with work. She wanted to bring particular attention to this story because she said it reminded her of the discussion we had where I expressed that my fear for my son was him being young & black. That he gets stopped by the police for nothing more than those two traits, people fear him for nothing more than his youthful appearance and being black. My biggest fear would be a phone call one day saying he'd been killed for simply being young & black. This story has affected me in a way that I never would have imagined. Typically I hear things in the news that cause me to get angry & then I move on wishing those affected well with the outcome. Not this story, this story has me angry, this story has me crying, this story has me relating on a level I never thought possible.
I mourn for this family, I mourn for mothers who have lost promising young men for no other crime than being young & black. This young man was in a nice community where his father lived, wearing a hoodie, talking on a cell phone with snacks in hand. This is my son, I'm in New Tampa, tons of gated communities and my son walks to the convenience store at times for snacks. There is a petition located at Change.org for all to sign asking that justice be done & his killer be apprehended. I signed it but it hardly seems like enough. I realize that nothing can be done to bring Trayvon Martin back, but something can be done to stop this from happening again & again. The fear I have, I can honestly say to you that many black parents throughout the country share this fear and now this mother is living it.
I ask that you stop hiding from conversations about race & stereotypes. Stop worrying about being politically incorrect and talk to one another. My friend, my blonde haired friend felt the need to talk to me about this story, we spoke quite openly about our feelings about our kids. Race, sex, religion are not off limits.
Education brings about illumination, perhaps if George Zimmerman had a frank discussion with some of the black people he had encountered in his life, he would have realized that simply walking with a hoodie was no cause for such lethal force. Had he not decided ahead of time that this child was trouble, he would have found out that he had a right to be there. Perhaps if George Zimmerman had taken the time to talk to others, he wouldn't have noticed this kid at all because all he would have seen was a young man on the phone with snacks, instead he saw a young black man and that equalled trouble in his mind. I wonder if he would have had the same reaction to a black girl in a hoodie? A young white boy? It's always our young men, why?
I grew up in the city of Chicago watching friends die due to gang violence, succumb to drug addiction or carted off to jail. I made certain my children would never live in a place where these were par for the course right outside their front doors. Trust me, with that came a different fear. Fear that my neighbors would feel my children didn't belong in the very place they lived. This child was going to his father's home and for this, he paid with his life. Please sign the petition, if it helps, I'm asking that you do something as simple as take 2 minutes out of your day for a child's parents to find justice. This could have been my son, it could have been your son. Please help. Thank you for your time.