My online network was definitely discussing the murder of Trayvon Martin. I shared a link on my Facebook page to an incredible blog post by Gina Carroll. However, I don’t think I really had internalized what had taken place. We are bombarded by so many stories every day, that we sadly become numb. As a white woman living in the suburbs, the story hadn’t felt personal to me. Until my friend Dwana posted a comment on my Facebook post.
Dwana and I had shared stories about our sons because they are very close in age. When she posted these comments, the story became personal. This story was no longer just another story. I now felt like I had been hit in the gut when I thought about Trayvon Martin.
Later in the week, I heard Jonathan Capehart on Al Sharpton’s show on MSNBC. He talked about African American teenaged boys getting taught a list of things they shouldn’t do when out in public. I understand parents having lists of things to teach their children. I taught my kids to say please and thank you. To treat others kindly and with respect. To brush their teeth. To follow through on tasks. But Capehart discussed a different list that was not a part of my world. He was told not to run in public because people would think he was in trouble. He was told never to run in public with something in his hands or people would think he stole it. I googled to see if others knew about these “lists” of items to teach African American teenaged boys. Sure enough, there were several blog posts in which people described these lists.
I want to swear at the top of my lungs at all of this. How can we raise a generation of young, proud, African American men when they are taught these lists? And how can my white sons and African American sons co-exist in fairness, justice, and peace when the terms under which they live in this country are so rife with inequality?
We must speak up about this. Not just African Americans, but all of us. We must do everything in our power to fight racial injustice in our communities. Because I now know that Trayvon isn’t just Dwana’s son. He is all of our sons now.
A relevant quote believed to be by Martin Niemoller:
First they came for the communists
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.