EDITOR’S NOTE: I wrote this entry in response to my 10-year-old son’s request for me to write something about Zimmerman’s acquittal in remembrance of Trayvon Martin.
“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?” —William Shakespeare
The ability to empathize is one of the greatest gifts of all!
As the mother of two sons, I was dumbfounded when I heard the news of Zimmerman’s acquittal. I kept thinking Trayvon Martin could have been my son, nephew or brother.
I learned of the Zimmerman verdict while attending the 28th Biennial Jack & Jill Inc. Mother’s Conference in Arlington, Texas. There was not a dry eye in the room of 200 African-American mothers. Every attendee sympathized with the Trayvon Martin family. Like many of us, his mother is a teacher. His older brother is a successful college student.
I was speechless and heartbroken.
I was even more dismayed when I read Facebook comments from my friends who said they would enjoy killing any young, black man who rioted in response to the shocking verdict. My speechlessness and sadness changed to anger after I continued hearing similar commentary on TV. I could not believe people supported and applauded George Zimmerman’s actions. Zimmerman definitely made a mistake — one that should not be repeated or celebrated! It is neither cute nor funny to joke about killing innocent children!
Have we lost our way in America?
Do Americans believe that black families do not value their sons? The Martin family is very much like many families in America. They are not drug dealers, criminals or outcasts. If it happened to Tryavon, It could happen to any young man.
Americans must realize that black people value their children just as much as any other race. Yes, like all cultures, the black community has its share of poverty, violence, and other problems, but that does not change the way African Americans feel about their children.
President Barack Obama has encouraged calmness and peace during this time of pain for the black community. I also advocate peace and nonviolence. However, I think we need to be proactive in the rearing of our children — particularly our black males.
Where do we go from here?
During most of our two-hour car ride home from Arlington, my sons, who are ages 8 and 10, discussed Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman trial (even when I tried to change the subject). They searched for guidance and reassurance that they will not be shot and killed while walking home. I could offer them guidance, but I could not reassure them that something similar will not happen to them.
We must arm our children at an early age for these sad realities that they will face as African Americans:
- Although we have a black president, America is not colorblind. We are not living in a post-racial society.
- Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream has not been realized! Black people are judged based on the color of their skin and not the content of their character. This is sad but true.
- Discrimination based on attire will always exist. Hoodies, tattoos, bandannas and baggy jeans are a no-no. We cannot change this fact so wear them at your own risk!!!!
- Racial profiling is alive and well. Black people will always be more likely to be pulled over by police officers for no other reason than their skin color. Be aware, be prepared and be respectful when it happens.
We must share these truths with our children in order to prepare them for life as an adult black citizen in the United States of America!
Below journalist Martin Bashir offers his take on the Trayvon Martin outcome. He is to be commended for offering insight into how African Americans feel about Zimmerman’s acquittal.
- dear black men (nowforawordortwo.wordpress.com)
- COMMENTARY: Zimmerman Acquittal Says It’s Open Season on Black Males (blackamericaweb.com)
- Leonard Pitts: Zimmerman verdict leaves key question unanswered (miamiherald.com)
- Opinion: Trayvon could have been my son (cnn.com)
- Protesters rally across US after Zimmerman acquitted of Trayvon Martin murder (telegraph.co.uk)
- ‘I am Trayvon Martin’ rallies across US voice anger at ‘humiliating’ verdict (guardian.co.uk)
- Fox News To African Americans: Blame Yourselves, Not George Zimmerman, For Trayvon Martin’s Death (newshounds.us)
- President Obama Talks Trayvon Martin and Race in the U.S. (atlantablackstar.com)
- Barack Obama makes first public comments on Trayvon Martin case since Zimmerman’s acquittal (abc.net.au)
- Trayvon Martin’s parents lead rallies in US (aljazeera.com)