Thursday, March 15, 2012

TREYVON MARTIN

Seventeen-year old Treyvon Martin was walking back from a convenience store to his father's home, when he was allegedly accosted and shot dead by a community watch captain.  Heading home put him in a “gated” community where he clearly wasn’t welcomed.  Treyvon was black and his presence in that “gated” community was a source of consternation for the man who shot him dead as evidenced by the 911 telephone call that was made just minutes prior to the deadly shooting.

The media reports that George Zimmerman, a white man, called for police assistance, reporting that Treyvon was “a suspicious person".  Despite being advised by the 911 dispatcher to not follow the young man and to wait for police, Zimmerman felt that he had the authority to approach and confront Treyvon instead.  That confrontation has now left a family to bury a child who once had a bright and promising future.

The central Florida police have yet to levy any charges against Zimmerman and it is unlikely that this man will face any consequences for his actions.  Treyvon was, after all, just another young black male viewed as a threat.

As a little girl I learned early how to behave and not behave when accosted by police or persons of authority who questioned my presence where they believed I had no business being.  I learned from watching my father and my godfather, black men who were readily stopped and  questioned about their activities and presence in the bright white community where they owned real estate, paid taxes, sat on community boards and participated in numerous neighborhood activities.  Despite the green of their wallets and their very active presence in community affairs, they were still black men viewed as a threat to somebody.

The same lessons I learned I passed on to my boys, reminding them every time they left our home that not everyone knew them, knew our family, or even cared that there was nothing malicious in their intent to simply go about their daily activities.  I reiterated the black parent's mantra over and over again, that if they were ever waylaid by the authorities that they were never to be disrespectful, never to mouth off, to always keep their hands where they could readily be seen, and to remember that even if they were not at fault and on their very best behavior, that not everyone had their best interest at heart.

Treyvon was allegedly shot because the bag of skittles and bottle of Snapple in his hands and pockets looked like weapons and were a threat to his aggressor.  I have no doubt that when this young man was unnecessarily detained by a man who had already deemed him suspect, he himself felt threatened.  I know that my father and my godfather felt threatened by law enforcement more times than not.

Despite my frequent admonishments to my baby boy to be mindful when he was out and about he still had to learn his lesson the hard way.  His first encounter with law enforcement came when he was seventeen, lean and lanky much like Treyvon; features still more boy than man.  Sonshine and his two best friends were playing basketball in the rear lot of a sports center within walking distance of our home.  It was night and the three boys were shooting hoops beneath a single light in the parking lot, something the previous property owners had readily allowed them to do without complaint.  With new owners came new rules and the boys were visited by local police who questioned them first and told them to move on home, that they were no longer welcome there during the late night hours. 

As they turned to leave, friend number one, blond and blue-eyed, had something rude and sarcastic to say.  Sonshine, thinking that he too could mouth off and wanting to defuse the seriousness of the moment with a cheeky comment, interjected with, “What’s the worst thing we can do…steal the pool water?”  Before he could blink John Law had Sonshine jacked against the side of the patrol car, his manner threatening as he unholstered his weapon, clearly not finding anything funny about my child’s remarks.  In that moment my son was clearly reminded that he was a black male in a world that saw no value in his presence and would sooner see him dead before they would see him President of the United States.  The incident shook the boy to his core, him discovering that he would always be singled out from his white friends because as a black male he’d already been labeled a threat, even when he wasn’t.  It is only for the grace of God that the incident went no further, that my baby boy did not become another statistic, just another black mother’s son cut down in his prime for what someone feared he would do, and not for something he had actually done.

Treyvon’s mother now has to bury her baby and my heart breaks for her and their family.  Sadly, George Zimmerman couldn’t see past his own fear, the man wanting to find trouble where there truly was none.  George Zimmerman's feeling threatened, by a kid allegedly minding his own business, has been the justification for him needing to defend himself with a 9mm semi-automatic against a boy with a bag of candy.  And as the mother of amazing and accomplished black men, I find that absolutely appalling.

16 comments:

HRAHMAN UK said...

Superb blog and perceptions that ring so true for what it is like to be black and endangered in America today..Certainly a rotten society to live in!!Sorry to be pedantic..it should be 'defuse'..rather than 'diffuse'..a mistake that seems to be a common occurence in blog articles.

Deborah Mello said...

Thank you for stopping by and commenting...and thanks for the correction...I need to get an editor for my blog!!!

jasonpolaski said...

I just read about this yeserday and I know this isn't profound or anything but its just so messed up and awful that it happened and it makes me hate this guy Zimmerman so much because it wasn't even one of those things where when looking at later you could see he had a credible excuse for shooting some kid, its actually the opisit of that and then the fact that he wasn't even put in jail despite the fact everyone knows what happened...

Anonymous said...

It's a living nightmare to know that a white man can blow your son's brains out in cold blood and get away with it. No one disputes the fact that this murderer initiated the confrontation or that the young man did nothing illegal in the time leading up to the confrontation. Were going backwards not forward. When Emmitt Till was murdered we stood together as a people. Now no one seems to care.

Anonymous said...

It's just a shame that racism still lives,almost American you want to hate white people all over again. They are no better than us, not in today's society any because if they haven't noticed... our president is black but I need to ask the Lord to take hatred out of my heart right now...this is so sad.

James Kalìwæ said...

This is beautiful writing. I say that keeping in mind the disgusting nature of the tragic hate crime which spurred its creation. Thank you so much for composing this.

Everyone aware of this story needs to read this. For people like me - by which I mean white, blonde, blue-eyed Americans - it's typically hard to understand the perspective of today's black Americans. Luckily, I've been fortunate to have a very diverse group of friends throughout my life... I remember a black friend of mine explaining it to me after leaving a 7 Eleven one day. About how the store clerk eyed him the entire time he was there, despite the presence of many non-blacks in the store. I hadn't noticed it at all, but didn't discard his perspective as invalid; the next time I went to a store with him I kept my eye on the clerk, and witnessed as his eyes remained glued on my friend as he browsed the store. Of course I hadn't ever noticed before - it wasn't me being looked down upon for no reason other than the color of my skin. I'm not claiming to have a complete understanding of black Americans' perspective, but I am saying it becomes clearer when we talk about it. It's double-edged, blacks need to be outspoken but whites need to actually be receptive and willing to listen and understand. So once again, thank you for writing this. This is a very important topic and not talking about it will only result in more tragedies such as this one.

Anonymous said...

oh Deborah, thank you for writing this. I am a "mature" white woman and my heart is breaking for the family who lost this child. I am also concerned that the Neighborhood Watch Guy didn't get arrested, didn't learn anything and probably will be telling this freakin' story the rest of his life. Real justice would be an arrest, and if that doesn't happen, his neighbors should drum him out of town. The guy is delusional. He should never be allowed to participate in Neighborhood Watch again.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could publish this with one click to FB or twitter. You need a share button for your post. Nicely said and should be shared.

Anonymous said...

Im a white adult male from the west coast of Canada, and I am sorrowed to her this story my heart goes out to Treyvon Martins family and friends and I hope true justice will prevail and This so called Block watch wanabe / Murderer has his day of reckoning,for this senseless event.

Anonymous said...

I saw nothing in any of the reports to indicate that this was a hate crime, or racist in any way. This was a terrible tragedy from all I can gather, because an overzealous self-appointed vigilante took matters into his own hands.

However, nothing that he said, or any of the witnesses said, gives any indication that it was a racist act. Nothing. Zimmerman was white (or is he hispanic?) and Martin was black. Is that your evidence of racism?

This should never have happened, Zimmerman should, and will, face prosecution, and just from the information available, should be convicted.

But I am sick do death of this hatred of white people that causes you and your ilk to play the race card at every turn, regardless of whether it applies or not. There are still instances of racism out there that need to be stamped out, but you cheapen that battle and lose credibility by claiming racism where there is no evidence at all that it was a factor.

Anonymous said...

My name is Jessie. I am writing you because I just read your blog about Treyvon Martin. I am a black male with four kids. Three of my children are boys. I have a sixteen, fifteen, and six year old whom I have tried to set a good example for. I work every day and spend all of the little money I make on the household. I treat their mother as I would treat.....better than I treat myself. As is the case in a great number of families, our money does not go very far. After reading, I thought about my own plight. I try to instill in my boys that they must work hard and it will pay off in the end. A great deal of the time, I have been let down by this very mantra myself, but I keep preaching it to them. I graduated college, kept my nose clean to the best of my ability, and it has yet to work out for me. I also have tried to teach them to respect those in position of authority, and that just because little Johnny gets away with it, does not mean you will. But then I read about this young man, and I am at a lost. Maybe, just maybe the “hard work” philosophy would have paid off for him, but now he, we, nor his folks will never know. I am one of the people that always try to look for the good in all people, but some people are just evil and no matter how you slice it, this was evil. If no charges are brought up on this guilty man, then there is ONE who judges and sees all and reads hearts. He knows the intentions of Mr. Zimmerman’s heart, and from the actions taken, it was not to protect any community. From any way of looking at this it was malicious. So going back to my situation and looking at this sad turn of events, it is easy to become disheartened and give up. I mean, not only do I(we) have to deal with the already stacked deck but also the utter craziness of this world. But, giving up will be giving in, and letting situations like this horrible tradgedy win. I (we) owe it to my folks, those who raised and those that depend on us, not to.

Anonymous said...

its hard to believe that in modern America racism is still an active border hindering good judgement and progress.i am a 19 year old black boy myself and this really baffles me.how mr. Zinnerman felt threathened by a 17 year old boy;only he knows.But God lives.rest assured justice will be served.
Beautiful writing though,Deborah.condolences to his family

Anonymous said...

fo one ima kid my self in dis wat I got to say..Mannee shouldent nobody have to berry thier on child thts likee berring yo self in death in pain but god bless the famliy who lost one of there kids though..

R.I.P Trevion <3

Anonymous said...

If he had been walking around in the rain in my neighborhood looking at empty houses I'd have followed him too. If he attacked me I would also have killed him. Zimmerman was doing the right thing and attempting to play this off as some racist incident is ridiculous. The bottom line is all the fanfare surrounding this case, and the 2nd degree murder charge, means Zimmerman will most likely NOT be convicted because he did NOT commit murder. All the little teenage thugs better keep in mind, some neighborhood watch areas actually WATCH. Mine does, and we're armed.

Carrie said...

I'm still in shock that it's 2013 and someone who blatantly gunned down a young man with his entire life ahead of him carrying skittles and iced tea and gets away with... not to mention the fact that it's incredibly obvious how racial the situation was.

I just don't get it.

Carrie said...

Hi! My name is Carrie and, not that I think it matters one way or the other but people seem to be letting you know whether they are man-woman-black-white, I am a caucasion 45 year old woman from Canada.

I know racism will never be truly gone. It's a disgusting thought, but true. The thing I don't get is how the legal system failed miserably a very young man with his whole life ahead of him, no matter his colour. His murderer was set free. I'm beyond appalled. I don't give a crap what colour a person's skin is, all races have bad people and all races have good people. All races have people who are racist.

Treyvon was gunned down on his way home with a bag of freakin' skittles by a "supposed" neighbourhood watch guy who was told to stay in his car and he decided to get out and shoot a kid. Why? My opinion was because he was white and he didn't like or trust black people. Why he was a grown man and felt threatened by a bag of skittles I'll never know. Why didn't he stay in his car like he was advised to do? Why if you truly felt threatened for your life by Treyvon wouldn't you shoot him in the foot to stop him instead of a single gunshot wound to the heart and killing him instead? Zimmerman knew exactly what he was doing and was on a power trip.

There is no way people can look at this but anything other than a racial crime or hate crime. Or so I thought. The legal system miserably failed.

I hope Treyvon is at peace in a beautiful heaven and I truly hope that Zimmerman eventually gets what's coming to him.

I also hope that his poor mother finds some peace. No mother should have to bury her son, especially under such circumstances.