I wish I could say the following more eloquently–this is from the heart. I am sad about Trayvon Martin, and I’ve been getting a bit teary about it. I am sad about all the young people killed in the US and the world, day after day. I usually don’t get all verklemmt about the news, but this tragedy yanks upon my heartstrings.
Trayvon Martin could have been one of my students.
I wonder how his former teachers feel. Did they miss seeing him sauntering into class, with that bounce that only teenagers have?
His English teacher, Michelle Kypriss said,”He was suspended because he was late too many times.” At the time of his death, Trayvon had been suspended 5 days for tardiness. (What was the principal thinking? I’m going to force you to miss more school because you’ve been late? But that’s a whole other issue.)
I am sad that 50 years after the Birmingham Civil Right Movement that Trayvon Martin‘s life was on trial. The fact remains that another young man is dead, and he won’t be starting college this September, like other students in the class of 2013.
Trayvon Martin’s Death: Social Media Profile on Trial
Folks have criticized his twitter profile, his tweets, and the pictures he posted of himself smoking weed. Now, I am not condoning a public display of one’s cannabis consumption. In fact, I don’t condone consuming any mind-altering substances at all.
What were you like when you were seventeen years old? Whether you were a social saint, a wallflower, a stoner, nerd, goth or gangbanger– it doesn’t matter. The fact is, a seventeen-year-old is STILL A CHILD. And NO ONE deserves to die AS A CHILD, like Trayvon.
I often caution my students to clean up their social media profile, especially if they are looking for a job, applying to college, etc. Yet NO ONE deserves to die because they took portraits of themselves giving the finger or smoking kush. The fact is teens do impulsive things. (Aren’t you glad that you grew up in the days before social media and speedy video sharing? Who knows what you would have posted!?) He had dreams of going to college. Trayvon had wanted to be a pilot. What did he get? A bullet.
All I know is that Trayvon’s death and the Zimmerman verdict put a giant spotlight on the elephant in America’s living room. The elephant, actually dragon of racism, is alive and hissing.
A Teacher’s Perspective
Kiddos have told me that stopped by police officers when they are just walking along the street/asked for identification. One kiddo informed me that he had been stopped, searched, accused of looking in car windows, and that the police officer used undue force when searching him.
Do these young men know what hope is? I mean REAL hope- fire in your belly hope- your chest is going to explode with anticipation hope–hope that you are walking in the way that God paved for you….
How can I, as a white mom, who looks like just another white teacher to them (at first)– infuse them with REAL hope? It is a God-sized job, one that we can only do together, with arms locked across cultural lines to raise our youth up. Some people might think that Trayvon Martin‘s death doesn’t matter, that’s he’s just another kid killed by a gun in the city. Trayvon’s sudden death has highlighted the festering negative stereotypes about Black men and boys in North America. The nefarious legacy of slavery continue to haunt generations of Americans, mentally and physically, and it’s time we all band together to fight the forces of evil.
One young man mentioned to me that there is not much hope for him as a man of color- he said that Black men just end up in prison. It is true that there are MORE Black men in prison today than slaves before the civil war. I tell the kiddos that the biggest prison- is the prison in the mind. I don’t know if they believe me. All I know is the verdict in the Zimmerman trial will make it even harder for kiddos of color to believe trusted adults that their lives DO MATTER.
I admire how Trayvon’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, have started the Trayvon Martin Foundation to “create awareness of how violent crime impacts the families of the victims, and to provide support and advocacy for those families, in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin. The scope of the Foundation’s mission is to advocate that crime victims and their families not be ignored in the discussions about violent crime, to increase public awareness of all forms of racial, ethnic and gender profiling, educate youth on conflict resolution techniques, and to reduce the incidences where confrontations between strangers turn deadly.”
Tracy Martin said, “We’ve taken that negative energy … and we’re trying to turn it into a positive…What we can do tomorrow — as a nation, as a people — to stop someone else’s child from being killed is certainly a positive.”
Sybrina Fulton, along with a black lawyers’ foundation, have called for a recall of the “stand your ground” self-defense laws.
In the meantime, I’m going to continue to cast a positive vision for my students—of their divine future and victorious destiny– so that they can step up into their roles as future leaders, entrepreneurs, and men of integrity. And I will pray for them. How about you?
They are all of our sons.