An Open Letter To George Zimmerman
As a mother of young brown boy, my heart Is broken
I have a young cousin who reminds me a lot of Trayvon Martin. My cousin is incredibly smart and interested in science. He says, "No, ma'am" and "Yes, sir." He calls me "his sister-cousin." He's roughly 5'5'' with a medium build, perfect for his spot on the swim team. He attended NASA summer camp. He's an artist. He's helpful and exactly the kind of kid who would walk to the store to get some snacks for his little brother.
Until a few weeks ago, I didn't worry about him. He stays out of trouble and he is a really good young man.
But now my sense of security has been shattered for him and young black men just like him. "Stays out of trouble" doesn't seem to mean what it used to for me or for most of Black America. Being a "really good young man" doesn't cut it either, apparently. Just because he doesn't have a criminal record, it doesn't mean he is safe. Just because he has never been in trouble with the law, it doesn't mean someone won't assume he has been or is out to cause trouble during a simple walk down the street. I cry for him now.
I have not listened to the 911 tapes (I do not need to hear his last moments alive, crying out for help). I feel like I don't have to. We know the facts. Those who have listened to the tapes tell me it's chilling. Haunting. Your self-defense alibi (which has sounded suspect from day one) is literally in pieces now. But I don't really have to tell you that -- you were there.
I have a son. He's 3. He's truly the light of my life. All his smiles and jokes and playfulness, I drink up every day. He's a young black boy and I worry for him. When I should be thinking about taking him to the park and just enjoying life, I worry about what his future holds. What potential life-threatening situations he might find himself in and how I can prepare him for it. How I can school him on the realities of being black.
That last sentence sounds absurd. The realities of being black? It's 2012 and we're still grappling with inequalities and injustice for simply belonging in certain racial groups. We live in a predominately white neighborhood and while everyone seems friendly, I know that I must keep my guard up and raise him accordingly. I want to trust that people see the good in everyone (particularly our youth) but you made me see that this is not the reality. The reality is there are still people who, given the opportunity, want to make sure their neighborhood is "safe" from people who look like my son.
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I wonder what you thought you were protecting your neighborhood from. Vandalism? Violence? Drugs? I rack my brain for a while but then I stop because I realize it's pointless. At this point, it doesn't matter. What matters is that Trayvon Martin is gone. His mother and father weep. His friends mourn. The world is stunned. (They should be.)
We're praying feverishly for Trayvon's parents. We may not be able to bring him back, but we can ensure that his parents receive comfort from the fact that we all see the injustice in this case and we won't stop talking about it, we won't stop bombarding the police department with our demands, and we won't stop calling for your arrest. We won't stop.
I don't quite know how to end this, so I'll leave you with this thought. True justice would have been if Trayvon could have made it to his father's house that night, handed the Skittles and iced tea to his brother and sat down to play video games. You could have just let the police do their job, assessed the scene, and left. Trayvon would still be breathing. Trayvon should still be breathing.