Boy. Girl. Negro. Colored. Nigg**. Black. African American. We were called all the aforementioned and have answered to most. Some were meant to degrade, dehumanize, marginalize, ostracize. Others were an attempt to reclaim our power, pride, integrity and heritage. Still a few were born out of a sense of confusion and identity crises.
But bottom-line we are Americans, governed under the same Constitution and laws of the land as every other American. Entitled to the same fair and equal treatment. However, lingering bias, prejudice, bigotry, racism lurk in the shadows and are so deep-rooted, they sometimes blend in, camouflaged as justified actions within the arm of the law. But we know injustice when we see it, smell it, taste it, feel it.
An unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch captain, 28 year old George Zimmerman. All the dead child reportedly had in his pockets were some skittle and a little can of juice as he was gunned down on February 26 just outside the gated community where he lived with his family in Sanford, Florida. Gunned down because he was “Suspicious While Black?”
Folks in the Black communities across America understand what this means, just as they know what WWB and DWB means. Walking while Black and driving while Black are monikers used by melanin-rich folks to describe the profiling, harassment or even worse, that we are subjected to simply because of pre-conceived judgments, blatant bias and sometimes covert racism.
Yes, racism, it still lives here and contrary to some naiveté across the land, a melanin-rich President did not eradicate it all. Intolerance, ignorance and prejudice cannot be legislated away and those with hearts of hate rarely change because of the law. They might just burrow covertly but the insidiousness of racism or bias will raise its ugly head at the slightest opportunity. Hate and fear can be an explosive combination.
Is this what happened here, as someone’s child lays dead? I am the mother of child the same age as Trayvon so I can only imagine the pain consuming his mom, the rest of his family and friends at this time. To add a piercing sword to the already violent emotional wound, the police haven’t arrested Zimmerman.
Why was Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch—not even a cop—authorized to shoot? Why did he find the teen “suspicious?” Does one’s attire, like a hoody, make the teen threatening when he lived in the same gated community? Was it his skin tone or a combination of both?
Zimmerman was, according to several reports, an over-zealous community watch captain, who called police over 46 times in the last 14 month to reports “suspicious people” in the neighborhood. On the night he killed Trayvon, the Miami Herald reports that he called 911 again to complain about a suspicious person he was going to follow. Despite the dispatcher telling him not to do so, he did and moments later the teen lay dead. So what really happened?
Apparently the local police have no desire to find out, for Zimmerman is walking around a free man--their excuse for not taking him into custody--"no evidence that suggest it wasn't self-defense." But this is not a simple case of he said/he said—a child's life was abruptly cut short. How can law enforcement just take the shooter’s word? Who is speaking for Trayvon?
Zimmerman claims the teen attacked him first and scared for his life, he defended himself by fatally shooting him in the chest with his Kel Tel 9mm. Now 7 witnesses say not so-- for they claim to have heard cries for help that night, then seconds after hearing the boom of a gun. One witness 31 year old Mary Cutcher, allegedly said that the cries sounded like a child’s. Click on the link at the end of this article to listen to the 911 tapes and judge for yourselves.
When the gun went off, the cries stopped immediately. She and friends ran outside to find Trayvon lying on the ground with Zimmerman holding him down on the ground. Moreover, Trayvon had no weapon on him. Yes, he was a tall teen, standing at a reported 6 feet 3 inches, but he was only 140 pounds, a lightweight for a male of that height.
The witnesses say they heard no grunts, scuffles or sounds of fighting like Zimmerman claimed happened. Now the 911 tapes have been released and the panicked cries of the witnesses calling for help as well as what appears to be Tayvon’s screaming for someone to help him, can be heard in the background.
It's only March, and the killing of our young men seem to be in full season. In New York, 18 year old Ramarley Graham was shot to death in the bathroom of his apartment by a police officer, while his baby brother and grandma looked on in horror. In New Jersey, 19 year old Malik Williams was shot and killed cowering in a garage, again by police.
Which leads into a bigger, even more sinister scenario, one that we rarely talk about amongst ourselves or hear broadcasted on the evening news. Black genocide, 'States-side.' We hear about Africa's atrocities, horrors in the Middle East, Asia's conflict but not much on Inner City 'Black on Black' crime. Our youths slaughter each other daily and it's like backgound noise in our daily symphony. We are over in Afghanistan and Iraq, fighting unending wars yet the war that needs to be fought and won in our own backyards are consciously ignored. Does the minimized value of a Black life play into this glaring gloss-over as well?
A wise man once said, "if the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed.The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness."
Is this the same society that sent NFL starto jail for cruelty to dogs?
Listen to the 911 tapes here:
Check out my article on the other side of the crime: