I would like to be writing now about films or music or the fabulous natural hair show that we just had at CSU Dominguez Hills but I can't...Trayvon Martin is uppermost in my mind. I have a brother and nephew named Trevon, and this has all really hit home for me. I know what my nephews mean to me, and what it would do to my family if one night one of them didn't come home. I am writing to share my own pain and outrage at the murder of Trayvon Martin, and awe and pride at the millions of people who have demonstrated in support of his family and in defiance of racial profiling. I am disgusted at the attempts of the media and the Sanford police department to put the victim on trial, looking for evidence to support Zimmerman's story rather than Trayvon, who can no longer tell his side. This injustice has been blatant enough to mobilize both those of us who are not surprised at the lack of value placed on Black life and those who would normally like to believe that we are living in a post-racial society.
We must maintain this pressure, and we must maintain focus. I am disturbed by talk of bounties and revenge, apalled at Spike Lee's tweeting action, and even ambivalent about the federal government's attempt to charge this as a hate crime: this should not be about pursuing George Zimmerman to the death or painting him as a villain, wacko, or bigot- I think the more frightening reality is that Zimmerman and the assumptions that drove his actions are not exceptional. Any Black man who has interacted with law enforcement understands how perceptions of Black male criminality and danger shapes their experience with officers who would ordinarily be considered good, responsible people. Trayvon's death may be an extreme example of the results of the kinds of preconceptions we carry around, but it is not aberrant. We have to examine the system that allowed this to happen and the narratives, constantly reproduced and re-circulated in media and public culture, that support it. If Trayvon is our Emmitt Till, let us make sure our anger and mourning is channeled into positive directions: dialoguing honestly about the interplay of race, class, power, violence, and policy-making in this country and continuing to mobilize to achieve substantial and lasting change in our institutions and interconnected cultural narratives and beliefs.
I applaud the family members of Trayvon Martin, the public officials and figures, community action organizations, and millions of ordinary people who have made statements, donned hoodies, written letters and rallied. Let's not let it rest!