If you’re tired of reading about Trayvon Martin and anything related to his story, then this post is not for you.
It may not be for the rest of you, either, but my purpose with this post today is not to talk about the injustice of the whole scenario (there are plenty of others who have already done that much better than I can), but my reactions to those who feel there is too much emphasis on two men that we don’t know. It is to address why, when we don’t like how some people are spilling out unfiltered reactions, that we feel it necessary to point out, “You know that one guy? The one who got shot last week? No one cares about him.”
I don’t think it’s wrong to want to draw attention to injustices to others or to encourage others to not forget about those who receive little to no attention at all who have suffered tragedy. I can’t fault anyone for reaching out to others for compassion or action, or whatever.
It’s the timing.
The issue I have is when it is done so in the wake of raw emotional expression toward an event that has caught the eye of the masses as though that National Event is “less than”. I read an article today where the author claims that the “real racism” was that there was no coverage of “how many young African-American men were killed in Chicago, Los Angeles, or New York during the Zimmerman trial”. Others that I know personally shared similar stories/feelings.
To me, instead of trying to show the similarities among these issues or even to raise compassion for them, it feels dismissive of the real issues we as a society are attempting to grapple with. Right now, our words, our thoughts, our behaviors, our passions are on Martin – or Zimmerman – or both, and all that their story represents for our personal world view and our communal world view. And when we all focus together on a single issue, we learn from it and grow from it – hopefully for the better.
These single-minded issues help us move forward in the way that looking at the plethora of smaller (even if related) issues cannot. Everything that is wrong with how the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman scenario played out is, for now, the embodiment of hundreds of other similar scenarios. What happened in that gated community in Florida is not the first time something like that has occurred, nor will it be the last. But it is the one that we can use to help us say, “This Is Wrong.” It is the one that can help us do better.
Rosa Parks was not the first black woman to defy the segregation rules of the bus seating, but she was the one chosen to help our nation focus on a single issue, to take notice. Tyler Clementi was not the first (or last) gay teenager to take his own life after relentless and cruel bullying, but we came together and said, This Is Wrong, and started work on stronger anti-bullying measures, among other things.
So to my social media network, immediate and on the larger scale, I promise you I am not forgetting about the child that was abducted, the citizen killed in a drive-by shooting, or the murders that don’t make it to the front page every day. Right now, I just happen to see them all in Trayvon Martin. Allow me to grieve and then join me so that we can do better.
From Dionne Farris:
Before I am black / Before I am woman / Before I am short / Before I am young / Before I am African
I am human
I am human
Because I am black / Because I am woman / Because I am short / Because I am young / Because I am African, oh
I am human
(It’s kind of a weird cover image, but in spite of the interpretation of who posted this song, the song is a good one. 😀 )