I’ve kept up with the Trayvon Martin saga from the beginning. Like many of you I watched the news coverage, read the articles, and talked about it with friends. It dominated public conversation and provoked a much needed discussion about race in America. The ugly reality of racism was pushed in front of our faces, and even those who like to pretend it doesn’t exist were forced to talk about it.
Over a year later, Trayvon’s killer has been tried and found not guilty. Does that mean we should move on from the issues? They found him innocent, so these “race issues” must not be as real as we thought they were, right? That couldn’t be further from the truth. I have no intention of arguing about the facts, Trayvon’s character, or the verdict in this tragic situation, but I do think some discussion should continue. The trial is over, but the conversation shouldn’t be.
I know there are many who wonder why this particular trial has captured the attention of so many. Others wonder why some black folks are so quick to sympathize with Trayvon Martin, despite the fact that he had issues of his own. After all, none of us were there and we don’t know exactly what happened. While that’s true, I did find myself emotionally invested in the whole ordeal. I can’t speak for everybody, but I can tell you why I found myself sympathizing with Trayvon and the Martin family.
When I hear about a young black teenager walking home from the store, and the man who assumed he was a criminal before knowing anything about him, I can relate. You may not be able to. Maybe you’ve never been followed around in a department store by a security guard for no reason. I have. Maybe you’ve never had a convenient store clerk scream at you to leave, assuming that the blackberry on your hip is a gun that you plan to shoot him with. I have.