I’ve only been aware of the story of Trayvon Martin Since Friday, March 17. I was introduced to it with a 911 call of the incident while search for more information on my phone. This tragedy, this injustice has been circulating my thoughts and I needed to write. Audio shocked me to my core, it haunted me in my sleep, and has consumed my thoughts. Here’s the a recent article on the DOJ/FBI investigation.
Trayvon is the same age as my brother. After listening to the audio, the first things on my mind was calling him and making sure he was okay. As the phone rang I was trying to figure out a way to share this story and keep him protected. Then I thought what does he need protection from? What am I suppose to tell him? That because you are a young person of color you need to always be vigilant of how others will perceive you? How walking home after dark can get you killed? Because you wear a hoodie and are a person of color you are automatically a “suspicious person” or “up to no good.” Am I suppose to strike fear in him to keep him safe?
At the same time it makes me think, is this the world we living? Maybe I’ve become to naive or removed from community by working in Higher Ed. A place were working with urban youth it’s easy to just adopt slogans like “if you give kids hope, they won’t sell dope” or “keeping ’em in school, keeps ’em off the streets”. I question, if I’m spend my time in the right place? I’m trying to get youth to college, to achieve their dreams, but many aren’t even making it past 17 years old. I’ve forgotten the war on the streets.
The reality is a young person of color was killed because of someone else perceptions/prejudice. He assumed, a black youth in a nice gate community, he is out of place. In addition, because he’s wearing a hoodie he’s up to no good.
Last night I was reminded the survival skills I learned in the streets. Particularly in dealing with authority figures, cops. I learned regardless how innocent your actions were if you were stopped by the cops they already were suspicious of you. I learned quickly, I needed to avoid being harassed which meant always being cognizant of the clothes I wore, the streets I walked on, and the city I was in.
As a teenager I learned to stay quiet, nod yes, and agree with what the cops on whatever they were accusing you of. I learned, if you tired to advocate for your rights, you’d be “resisting arrest” or “interfering with an investigation.” I stayed quiet and I never was arrested when my friends and I were harnessed. Was I a coward, I stayed silent. I reflect on what more I could have done to challenge those authority figures.
In contrast, my friends who were more vocal would assert their rights as citizens. In the end they would be leaving in the back of a squad car in handcuffs. They’d be out the next day with no charges. The only thing on our records was a sense of fear and intimidation our minds.
I write this to raise awareness of the injustices going on in our country. To ask do we really need to look outside of the US to see young people of color being terrorized,criminalized, imprisoned, or killed? To spend our time, money, and talent on the issues facing our local communities.