I’ve been thinking about writing a blog post about Trayvon Martin for two weeks. It’s hard to know what to say in the face of suffering and injustice. But these sorts of incidents can be a catalyst for asking ourselves hard and necessary questions. Instead of writing about vigilantism or guns or prejudice, I want to start with those questions.
Is this case unique or is this an example of systematic injustice? (I want to refrain from quick answers but I also highly recommend this blog post from 2009 entitled “Black Black Boy Swagger, Black Mom Fear.”)
Who are we afraid of? Why?
Is it appropriate to use a handgun in a conflict? When? Why? Would you carry one?
If we can think we’re doing the right thing, but be wrong, what safeguards do we have to keep our emotions in check?
What is our responsibility towards our neighbor’s property? Is it different from our neighbor himself?
There are many angles to consider this story from and I appreciate this roundup from Kristen at Rage Against the Minivan for more of them.
I think this death should cause us all great sorrow at a life cut short and the dangerous profiling that black young men face in daily life. Even if details about Martin or the incident emerge that paint him in a less saintly light, remember that the truth resists simplicity. He may not be perfect but that doesn’t change these facts of the case: that he was unarmed and that a large man was following him while he returned from buying snacks. He was not committing a crime.
I hope that in a year, or even five, our society remembers Trayvon Martin. And we’re a little bit better because we do.