I stand with ForHarriet.com today, and blog-in for Trayvon Martin.
Like a baseball from a neighbor’s yard, the ballad of Trayvon Martin has rolled, unbidden, into my consciousness. Like that unwanted ball, I claim it, turn it over, hear the cries for its return–with commentary attached: Don’t you want justice? Aren’t you outraged? Volley this narrative. Lend it support.
I consider keeping the ball for my collection.
I am that elusive town elder, that crotchety, aloof, possibly mad woman down the block. I’ve heard too much. I’ve darkened my windows, shuttered out light. I’ve locked my doors.
Yes. This is an outrage. I can almost feel his downy chin in the palm of my hand. I can clearly see his smile, read his mind. I remember the corner-store runs of my youth, the one-dollar bills in pockets that may as well have been fortunes. I can taste the Skittles, sandpapery sweet, and feel the swell of pride, divvying up these spoils among summer friends, among younger siblings.
I know what it is to be a giver, a gatherer.
I know the misplaced confidence we give to gates and how easy it is to forget we are caged, until we find ourselves becoming prey.
I know suspicion: the cop car that flips its lights and sirens just to f–k with us, that follows so closely behind our cars in the night that we can no longer see its headlights, that pulls us over to trump up a violation or issue a pointless citation or to do absolutely nothing at all but stare and pull off with a peal of chilling laughter. I know the unshakeable gaze of the sales clerk, the involuntary cringe as I pass through a department store’s security sensors, even though I know I’ve paid for my purchases, even though I know that I’m no thief.
But here, Trayvon Martin and I part ways, for I do not know what it is to be gunned down at 17. I do not know what it is to be a doe-eyed boy whose soft, unscowling features become wolfish in the eyes of the wrong white man.
I do not know what it is to be hunted.
And what worries me most, what keeps me from wrapping this metaphoric baseball in a venomous screed against all the George Zimmermans of the world and lobbing it through the glass halls of justice and commerce, is this:
I also do not know what it is to send my child to visit her father—to entrust her to his sunny, soundless suburb—only to have her returned to me in a body bag.
It’s enough to leave me curled against all discourse.
It’s enough to render me catatonic.
It’s enough to make breathing difficult, labored, nigh unto impossible, when I really think about it.
We have seen more than our share of Trayvon Martins. So have our ancestors. I still speak the names of Amadou and Sean and Oscar, still conjure them from their desolate places, willing them unforgotten. I pull their memory around me like a shroud. Like our parents did for Bobby Hutton and our grandparents did for Emmett Till.
We never have time to stop mourning.
We are never safe.
We are surveilled. We are followed. We are stopped. We are dead.
It seems as senseless to demand fair retribution as it is that these men and boys were murdered in the first place.
Trayvon Martin’s face, floating up to me as I cower over sudsy dishwater, as I hold my 19-month-old too tightly, as I try to coax sleep from its hiding place, cuts me down to the marrow. I am numb.
But in this silent place, I know that no one who remains here ever ends up on the right side of history. No one who has pulled her curtains to shut out the world has ever escaped its ravenous grasp.
Injustice assails us all. Whether it merely grazes or impales us, we will never wholly forgo it.
Who are we if we allow resignation to unseat our outrage? What kind of mother am I if I, upon hearing of tale after suspicious tale of black boys lost, can only sigh relief that I’m raising a girl?
We cannot believe the odds are unbeatable, cannot keep our heads low, our mouths closed, our God thanked that, yet again, our own child was passed over, that yet again, it isn’t our blouse stained with blood.
If we do, we were spared without purpose. We’re as impeachable as every trigger-puller.
Sign the petition at Change.org to prosecute the killer of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin
Contact Bill Lee, Chief of Police, and ask why George Zimmerman hasn’t been charged in Trayvon’s shooting death. Ask what evidence their department’s withholding.
Ask if Trayvon’s parents will ever hear Zimmerman’s taped 911 call (edited to add: the 911 tapes were released last night, to heartbreaking, but revelatory results):
Sanford Police Department
815 W. 13th Street
Sanford , Florida 32771
Contact Norman Wolfinger, Florida’s 18th District State’s Attorney
State Attorney’s Office
Criminal Justice Center
101 Bush Boulevard
PO Box 8006
Sanford, Florida 32772-8006