When I look at images of Trayvon Martin I see a child. In him I see my 11-year-old nephew, my neighbor preparing for his first semester of college. I see my brother, I see your son.
Hitting closest to home I see the boys we recently worked with during our series of Human Intonation workshops for high school students in Brooklyn, spanning neighborhoods from Bensonhurst to Bushwick. To the point of Trayvon's father, Tracy Martin, any one of our students could have lost their life on that fatal evening. To take it a step further, as many of us examine the fact that what happened to Trayvon could and can happen to any child in our lives, it is hard to think that these same conversations about ways to protect our children, more specifically children of color, were taking place nearly 60 years ago.
Initially shell-shocked by the verdict that left George Zimmerman a free man, what first came to my mind was the story of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old black boy killed in 1955 rural Mississippi after being accused of whistling at a white woman. That trial raised all the same questions of sufficient evidence and whether young Till was responsible for his own death or whether he was of unsavory character. The outcome of Martin's trial feels so reminiscent of the acquittal of Till's murderers by an all-male, all-white jury that when further juxtaposed to present day living in an America post-Civil Rights Movement where Barack Obama is president, the verdict simply chills me to the bone. Yet, there is hope that justice can still take place and the mounting legacy of Trayvon Martin now serves a larger purpose.
Whether it is because he was so young, or unarmed or there was no reason for he and his family to believe he would not make it home that night, the death of Trayvon Martin marks a new chapter in our journey to demonstrate that our children's lives are valuable. Clinging to the words of Trayvon's mother Sybrina Fulton, that Trayvon "was a child" and "acted as a child," the 'Justice for Trayvon' rallies that took place across the country this month and the revelations of Juror B29 indicate that we are not giving up. We continue to seek justice so that the future does not provide a free pass where the life of my nephew, our brothers, or any child in any place can be taken without consequence.
For those in pain, the power is in positive action. Be of service at this time. Connect with the children in your life. We cannot take for granted the time to engage with our young boys on taking positive action to mitigate how the outcome of the George Zimmerman trial may shape their life experiences. When I think about our time in working with young people, it is a painful thought that any one of our boys could be next. It is up to us to understand the fine print of "Stand Your Ground" Law in order to fight to repeal it. We owe much to Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton as they stand now for other families, for the future of other children. We will continue to stand for your son.