There are many stories getting headlines across the country today, but nothing more captivating than the situation down in Sanford, Florida. The story of Trayvon Martin is one strictly of a human nature. There are many that want to make it about something as simple as the clothes that he was wearing. However, that excuse is nothing more than trying to justify the actions of the shooter, while placing little to nothing on the value of the life of the person who was cold bloodily gunned down. As a human being, I am free to wear whatever it is that I choose to without the clothing impacting whether or not I will become a victim of crime.
This post is not just about the way in which an innocent young man lost his life, but the reactions and emotions that it has caused throughout this country. So much so, event the President of the United States has chimed in. I have major reservations about whether or not President Obama should even add his voice to the controversy, but his statement about the incident reminded me of the movie, “A Time to Kill”. And as a citizen of this country who believes in the democracy and freedoms that we have like no other place in this world, what President Obama had to say really hit home with me as a parent with a 15-year-old son.
I want everyone that reads this post to take race out of the equation as you try to make sense of what happened to young Mr. Martin. In the aforementioned movie, there was a character by the name of Jack Brigance, played by actor Matthew McConaughey. In the movie, McConaughey defended a man who had taken the law into his own hands after the brutal rape of his 10-year-old daughter by two grown men. Those men were gunned down by the little girl’s father in cold blood. As the movie played out, there was this racial component that became the focus of the movie. The vigilante justice was executed by a black man whose daughter was brutally raped and lost the opportunity to ever produce grandkids for him as a result of the attack. The perpetrators of the crime were two white men with interesting views about the race of others living down in Mississippi at the time.
The ensuing trial of the man whose daughter was violated was violated took on a negative and racially charged tone. Much in the same was as the Trayvon Martin tragedy is playing out in life, as opposed to parallel art from the movie I am using as a basis for this post. The person responsible for taking the life of Mr. Martin opted to use vigilante justice and take the law into his own hands based on a fear that he had. His fear may just be that of a deep-rooted feeling that he has about people whom are different from him based on skin pigmentation or he may have let his perception about something become his reality and acted out accordingly. Whatever the case may be, his actions has caused a whirlwind of activity across this land.
I am not here to shape one’s view about the situation, but what I will do is ask each reader that is a parent to do is imagine for a moment how often you look at the clothing that your child has on when they leave the house. Regardless as to where your son or daughter is going when they leave the house, you expect them to come back home. The one thing that you do not expect is that they cross paths with a neighborhood watch person who in doing their job, allow their perception to become a reality. From all accounts, Mr. Martin could have been a human being of any ethnicity that happened to be wearing a piece of clothing associated with one that commits criminal acts. Unfortunately though, there was never a chance for him to speak about his intentions due to the overzealousness of someone who thought to act first and ask questions. Thing is, asking questions was not an option due to a death that came first.
The one thing that I am almost 100% certain of is that Mr. Martin was not the threat that the vigilante is trying to make him out to be. If one chooses to volunteer to serve on a neighborhood watch group, they damn well need to have an open mind and stay objective. Most importantly though, is that they cannot have a sense of fear in their heart in which to base any preconceived notions about others that they use as a reality to justify their actions. Mr. Brigance said it best in his closing argument when he painted the picture of the victim as just any human being regardless of color. He asked the jurors to close their eyes and think about how that 10-year-old girl that was brutally raped, beaten and violated by two grown white men. And in a stroke of genius and before asking them to open their eyes, he asked them to imagine is she was white.
Let us imagine if Trayvon Martin was white. Where do you think the perpetrator of his crime would have gone the very night the crime was committed?
President Obama is to be commended for taking a stance on this case, because as the leader of the free world, it put into perspective how senseless of an act it was to snuff out the life of Trayvon Martin. He also showed that such an act is not one that even he would be exempt from if he had a son growing up in today’s America. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said it best many, many years ago; “One should never be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character”. Sadly, it appears that young Mr. Martin was unfairly judged by the former and the perpetrator never had a chance to find out about the latter.
The incident in Florida is a harsh wake up call and it is sad that in 2012; even after the historic election of a person of color to the highest office in this land, that we still have racial animus and some still tend to place such a cheap value on others based on skin color. Notwithstanding however is that the same outrage that is being shown with regard to what happened to Trayvon Martin should also exist in every urban community as domestic terrorist continue to take over the place. The show of support for Mr. Martin needs to also be shown toward all the parents in places like Detroit and Chicago where 9-month-olds to age 25 boys/men are being mowed down by their own due to a complete disregard for humanity.
For me, art imitating life and the closing argument from the movie “A Time to Kill” and the eloquent words of President Obama has helped to make sense of the tragedy that is the death of Trayvon Martin. Now, it is time for everyone to heed the call to stay civil and allow for the justice system to do right in memory of Trayvon’s and to put his perpetrator in jail where he rightfully belongs. It should never be about the clothing that one has on which dictates another to form an opinion which may result in death. I for one will continue to where my hoodie that represents my alma mater, undergraduate program, favorite sports team and preferred athletic wear. And if one chooses to judge me for what I wear instead of who I am, to hell with them, because they will never stop me from being a human being first and foremost.