Trayvon Martin did not deserve to die. It really is that simple. He did not deserve to die for wearing a hoodie, for reaching for skittles, for walking in a wealthy neighborhood. George Zimmerman was found not guilty of 2nd degree murder this weekend. His was the hand that held the gun. The finger that pulled the trigger. His was the judgment that deemed Trayvon a threat. Zimmerman took the actions that lead to Trayvon’s death but it was a joint effort. We helped.
When I was young, my uncle would always lock the car doors when he saw a black person walking on the street. He would say, “I’m not prejudice, I’m just being honest. Those people are more likely to commit a crime.” Those people. So, was Trayvon “those people”? Was he “those teenagers“? 16% of violent crimes are committed by juveniles. Was he “those men? 86% of violent crimes are committed by men. Was he “those black people“? 18.5% of violent crimes are committed by black people. He certainly wasn’t “those white people” who commit 46.5% of violent crimes. So, if my uncle were really being honest, he’d lock the doors whenever he saw men or white people. Whenever he saw white men. Whenever he saw himself.
Trayvon is dead and George Zimmerman pulled the trigger. Just last year, a black woman in Florida was given 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot. And yet, according to one juror in the Martin case, race did not even enter the discussion. We don’t like to talk about race as a factor in our justice system. We don’t like to talk about it in our educational system. We don’t like to think about race as an issue at all. And when I say “we”, I mean white people. And I mean people with power and privilege. And I mean middle class and educated people. I mean people that have the luxury of believing that race is not a factor. I mean those of us that helped Zimmerman kill a teenage boy last year.
Trayvon Martin did not deserve to die. But just knowing that is true isn’t going to make a difference. Join me instead in taking responsibility and taking action. This is a list of over 25 suggested actions. Let’s talk about race and class and privilege and then, let’s do something together to make a difference.