Saturday, June 15, 2024

Community responds to Trayvon Martin Case…Everything Defined

Community responds to Trayvon Martin Case…

Everything Defined


Nyla Christian and her son Niko.

For the past few days, I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around a conversation that I’ve been dreading for years.

Like any conscious mother of a breathing Black man-child in this country, I’ve got an ache in my heart that tears at the fabric of me. Each time I close my eyes, I imagine that my child — if he’s ever in any “wrong” neighborhood — could be mistaken, mistook, misjudged and downright missed by justice.

A fear has seeped into the consciousness of my dreams and hopes for my young man. I scramble to put my face back together and smile as he crosses my threshold, and ventures out into a world that deems him — without personal provocation or premise — menacing.

This conversation is the one in which I dutifully inform him to speak and behave proudly when in the company of those who may prematurely judge him to be dangerous, based solely on his skin color. To be sure they are aware of his strong academic prowess and worldly manners.

This conversation is one I’ve been having with him through action and gesture for 14 years. But in the wake of a verdict that confirms my fears, it is now a dialogue that we must engage in more explicitly, with even greater candor.

How do I convey to my proud, strong, determined, focused, present and accounted-for young man that his fate, at any wrong moment, could be decided by a community that has deemed his existence futile before he has even hit the ground running? (Which, by the way, I must remember to tell him never to do in public, unless he is getting paid to do so. A jog through the right neighborhood at the wrong time could get you tagged as suspicious, and summarily executed by a gun-toting, walking, stalking judge and jury that has decided to do away with the uncertainty of your intentions.)

When do I tell him that when they say “stand your ground,” they are not referring to those still deemed less than worthy of that ground. When’s the opportune moment to prime him for a reality bent upon his destruction?

The sadness, pain and fury felt in our community after the loss of Trayvon, coupled with the insult and injury of the Zimmerman verdict, left us speechless. But these tragedies has given my son and I dialogue.

I asked if he’d thus far encountered anything that resembled the racism and bigotry that preceded Trayvon’s fate. I wondered what he thought the infamous “they” — those who smile through their hatred and bear arms through their bigotry — expect of him. His answer was a definitive, “Nothing. They expect nothing of me Mom.” In one fell swoop, my young man dispelled the notion that he’d been caught “unaware” by the verdict. In one word, he ripped a hole in the idea that I’d protected him from a stinging truth.

I asked what he felt about that. In the next moment, he summarized every lesson I ever learned in African-American History 101. He summarized the biographies of everyone from Garvey and Tubman, to Mae Jemison and El-Hajj Malik El Shabazz. He turned my world back right side up, and reopened my tear-stained third eye.

I send his retort to Trayvon’s mother as a sign of belief and determination that we will not sit idly by as this country declares open season on the hope of our future men. This verdict will not send our men scurrying back to the shared crop, leveling their eyes to the ground in fear of having to equal out their manhood at the end of a noose or the barrel of a gun. They will continue to strive, grow, achieve and live.

I asked how he felt about the tunnel visioned few’s morbid expectations of him and his brethren? His answer: “Doesn’t matter to me what they expect, Mom. I expect everything of myself and for myself.”

We stand proud and ready to pick up where so many young Black men are cut down, put down, shot down or pushed back. He is not waiting for your permission to live, to be, to breathe deeply in his manhood.

And, I am not standing for your denial of his potential, or accepting your denial of his worth.

Everything is defined: I am a Super-Proud-And-Ready-To-Fight-For-My-Son’s-Future-Mom.

And I stand for Trayvon.

Local businessman, John Edmond

“It is my opinion that Trayvon Martin was profiled by George Zimmerman, which led to his demise. This should be a major concern for all African-American parents with teenage boys. The same offense by another citizen could very easily happen, because it may never be reported or could be covered up.” — John Edmond, businessman

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