Throughout the country the death of Trayvon Martin has sparked fury. His death parallels thousands of young Black boys throughout the country, weekly. In Milwaukee, the number of homicide deaths of Black males in 2011 was 170 for Black males between the ages of 15-24. For White males between those same ages, the number was 30 homicides. The fact that Trayvon’s death was at the hands of a self-appointed neighborhood watchman simply was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Many media commentators have stated there has been too much emotion before all of the facts are in; and, racing to judgement before a full investigation was very premature. But if the situation had been reversed with George Zimmerman dead and Trayvon alive, Martin would have been held in jail that night, we believe! In too many cases, that is the norm.
There would be extensive reports about what happened as Martin would have been handcuffed, taken to the police department, interrogated thoroughly and probably held until all witnesses’ statements could be checked. This happens on a daily basis.
While by law one is innocent until proven guilty, thousands of Black boys, Black men and elders are iconically guilty until proven innocent. Institutionalized racism….often subtle and subconscious, engrained for so long, is real! It is so engrained that it plays out in our own race. Look at Black on Black crime.
Hoodies have become a stereotype; a national, institutionalized image. For as the nightly news spews the happenings of the evening robberies, now videotaped for posterity, the robbers are often wearing hoodies. The assumption is that hoodies are worn to hide the face. Hoodies are most often worn for warmth. It’s a low-cost protection from the elements. They are not singularly a robber’s fashion statement.
However, many a Black mother has said “no hoodies” because they fear the image and more significantly understand the bias. Yes, Black mothers have been having “the conversation” with their boys, for over 100 years. Regrettably, it remains salient yet in 2012.
There needs to be “the conversation”… about keeping your pants up and not haning from your buttocks. Our boys must understand the message and imagery of that fashion statement. They must also learn not to run if a policeman approaches you. And, don’t reach for anything while talking to a policeman. We must teach them to ask: “May I call my mom or dad, they need to know about this?” They must also ask: “Am I being held for something? If so, what am I being questioned for?” And, if the patrolman states they are investigating something, teach your kids to ask: “Can I have someone present with me who understands what these questions are about”. Our children must be taught the things that will save their lives. No, these precaustions do not free Zimmerman of whatever guilt the findings will prove; nor does it soothe the pain we all feel for the Martin family and the harsh reality that another Black child has died needlessly.
Yes, we must continue to insist upon the truth associated with Trayvon Martin’s death. Zimmerman must be interrogated thoroughly as Trayvon would have been….he would have never been able to just walk away. The U.S. Justice Department is now involved and will want all of the records for Zimmerman and Martin, and the law enforcement officers who were involved that night.
Justice cannot be “just us”! Speak with any a Black mother, father, or man or teen and they can tell you stories that belie what the laws are supposed to represent. That is the fury of the Martin case.
And new laws that permit people to carry their guns to “protect themselves” is a return to the insanity of the wild, wild West !
These new laws must be repelled. They serve no good purpose in any community….regardless of race.
We are reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his non-violent campaigns. Protest for justice is necessary and non-violence is a virtue!