Today my heart aches.
My heart doesn’t just ache for a boy in Florida named Trayvon.
Amongst the outrage against the verdict in the Zimmerman case is the quieter question of why we’ve focused on one Trayvon, when dozens of Trayvons die daily in streets across America killed by the hands of their own.
The answer is that we know that America isn’t going to pay attention to those Trayvons. We know that when white males go into schools and kill other white males we have national discussions on gun control, bullying and mental illness. We have a national outpouring of sympathy for both the shooters and the victims and a nation of folks working hard to understand why.
But in cities like Baltimore and Chicago and St. Louis we have silence. We know that our own Trayvons will never make the national news.
So instead of trying to fight that battle, those of us who can and know how just try to move. We look at our little black sons and point to the President of the United States and say, “Look! You can be whoever you want to be. If you get a Harvard education, if you never get into a fist fight, if you hold your tongue and your temper, if you never smoke marijuana (or at least make sure no one can prove it), if you know how to act during a traffic stop, if you always get an “A,” if you can be just strong enough without being intimidating, if you have all of the qualifications of a United States President and then some, you can convince a little more than half of America to accept you as a human being.”
But what do you say to your son if he is just a little black boy who likes to wear hoodies, ones that look just like the one my 4-year-old loves, that he zips and pulls over his head even when it’s warm outside, causing my husband to joke that he is “a boy in a hood?” What do you say to your son if he is just a little black boy that walks to the store for tea and skittles, and instead of running scared when someone is trying to intimidate him, does what his father taught him and stands his ground?
Today my heart aches because last night I, like parents of little black boys everywhere, knew that George Zimmerman wasn’t on trial. Trayvon Martin was. So I held my breath and hoped, even if I didn’t believe, that I could look at my own little black boy, the one who I kiss and call my little almond before he answers “no I’m browner!” and give him a different answer to the question that Emmett’s mother had to ask, that Amadou’s mother had to ask, that the mothers of countless nameless little black boys across this nation ask every day: Is the act of being born a little black boy a crime punishable by death?
My heart aches because last night America answered. And the answer is still a resounding yes.
BMWK – Please share with us what you are telling your children about Trayvon Martin’s death? Are you going to turn your disappointment or anger into action? If so, how?