The release of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s 911 tapes have left a cold place in my soul where my heart should be. By now I’m sure you’ve heard the audio tapes, have seen his grieving mother on television and have formed your own opinion about the situation. If you’re like me, you’re wondering how an unarmed young man visiting his father, carrying just Skittles and a bottle of iced tea after a trip to the store, ends up dead at the hand of the neighborhood volunteer watchman. The gunman, George Zimmerman, remains free. There’s been widespread community outrage over the incident, and some 400,000 people have signed a petition calling for justice.
While I’m not by any means naïve to the fact that this type of thing happens to our young Black men every day (my husband is a criminal defense attorney, so I’m well versed on this subject), it still doesn’t sit well with me as a mother of young Black boys. I have the benefit of being married to a strong Black man who can provide an insight, knowledge and innate wisdom that I can’t. We talk to our sons a lot now about working harder, being a step ahead, being smart about decisions and being aware of their surroundings. As they get older I’m sure the conversations will be more intense – focusing on what times they’re coming and going, what they have on, what to do/not do if they’re ever stopped by the police. Discussing stories of personal experiences and current events like these will drive home the point.
Honestly, how much can we really protect them? If I send my son to the store to pick up a gallon of milk, but he appears “strange” or “up to no good” to someone else and never makes it home, what good are those lessons? The truth is, no matter what you say or do, as soon as your child leaves your house those few hours between then and when he comes home are a gamble – you pray that his key turns the door every evening. I wonder do other groups of people fear for their children’s safety like we do? Do they have to prep their children or keep such a watchful eye on them?
And who will hold up all the families suffering like the Martins/Fultons whose skin and face resemble mine so closely? When you live in a state where there’s a “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows wide latitude in the use of deadly force if someone feels reasonably threatened, how much justice can you hope for? I read today that the Martin/Fulton family asked for FBI assistance because they no longer trust the police department. What other recourse do they have? I mean, the police didn’t even test the accused gunman, George Zimmerman, for drugs/alcohol while he was in custody, and there are accounts of dismissing eye witnesses.
So I go back to the title of this post and ask: How do I protect my boys? What more should this mother do? I want to hear what you have to say. Other than what we’re doing now, I’m left to bulletproof my soul.
My prayers go out to Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton. May your son rest in peace.
Chic Busy Mom