Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Events Surrounding The Trayvon Martin Tragedy Are NOT Uncommon

Two weeks ago when I wrote an opinions piece on Trayvon Benjamin Martin, his story was one that seemed extraordinary, and the sensationalized coverage of the event seem like an uncommonly horrible occurrence. Although, Martin’s death was unfortunate and catastrophic, it was also casual, standard and customary; by no means is it an isolated incident.

More people than just Trayvon Martin are executed, murdered or killed without any other basis than the color of their skin.

Every day thousands of Trayvon Martin’s are executed, murdered, or killed without any other basis then the color of their skin and the prejudicial judgments made based upon it.

There’s Troy Davis who was executed even after seven of nine jurors retracted their testimony and a decade’s worth of controversial court proceedings. There’s Jordan Trent Miles who was mobbed by three Pittsburgh police officers who left him brutally beaten and hospitalized. But, like countless cases, the officials denied their actions, claiming they believed he had a concealed weapon; Miles only had a Mountain Dew bottle in his pocket. 

Troy Davis

There’s Sean Bell, who was one of three men shot 50 times by police officers. All three involved officers were acquitted of charges of manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and assault. There’s Robert Tolan, son of retired MLB player Bobby Tolan, who shot in his own driveway by police officers because they believed he was armed suspect in a car robbery. There’s Oscar Grant who was shot New Year’s Day by an officer, who claims he was reaching for his taser and not his gun.   
Sean Bell
Sean Bell with fiance and daughter

Many of these names remain unknown and unmarred by history because each is just another black man who has died due to some accidental factor- be it a hoodie or a luxury car. Yet, the world often remains apathetic, ignorant and untouched by their deaths, their fates of injustice and the reality of racism.

This fact becomes clearer to me every day when I mention the name Trayvon Martin and some peers scrunch up their faces in confusion and indifference. I notice it when some people become uncomfortable by the details of the case, not only because it is highly racially charged, but simply because they’re ignorant to a situation that does not affect them. 

But for me, it’s an undeniable, strikingly alarming issue that I cannot simply blur out of my mind because Trayvon Martin could have been my brother too- my brother who I have personally seen racially profiled. Maybe it's because I have to think that years from now, as a mother, I'll have the internal fear that my son will be demonized, stereotyped, and possibly killed for his skin; and that there is nothing I can do to prevent this. Maybe these reasons prevent me from ignoring the reality of Trayvon Martin.

Instead, some individuals choose to see a perfect world, blind to the issues of race relations, racial profiling, and injustice that continue even in the 21st century in what many have called a “post racial society,” especially since President Obama’s presidency. But we do not live in a “post racial” civilization; in some ways, the president reminded us of this. As the president noted, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” And, if his son happens to wear a hoodie, to place a bottle in his pocket, or to walk a certain way, society may still cast him as a criminal.

These stigmas and stereotypes did not just go away with the Civil Rights movement, the constitutional amendments to protect all citizen of all races, or the decree “ under one nation with liberty and justice for all.” From the inception of this country, the suggestion of justice for all did not include minorities. However, centuries later, society has come to believe that we are better than our forefathers, that Americans have truly created a United States, where citizens can proudly live these truths.  By adopting this innocent and perfect mindset, we fail to see the realities behind this idealistic mindset that makes it easier  becomes easier to ignore the consistent instances of injustice, like that of Trayvon Martin.

Instead, citizens will make excuses for why these types of deaths are acceptable and happen. The blame rests in animate objects like hoodies, skittles, or iced tea- not inanimate objects like racism.
The choice is made to focus on other pressing issues in the world. And though each issue has its place, no one should be held in higher standard then the lives of innocent citizens.

Today, it seems that people have finally banded together to call an end to this ignorance and the acceptance of injustice. But, like many other cases, the likelihood of change may be minimal, while the chances of hype and fame for pioneers, demonstrators, and leaders is high. Meanwhile, family, friends, and loved ones of minority males continue to question when change will come and when race will no longer determine the safety of a boy walking home from a convenience store.


  1. Nothing’s changed here A Black thug assaulted a guy on the streets, who defended himself.One less Black thug in this world..thank you Zimmerman!

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