Archive for July, 2013

Armed With A Hoodie – A Black Mother Speaks

July 22, 2013


July 22, 2013

I wrote the posting below on Monday, July 15, 2013; 48 hours or so after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the murder of Trayvon Martin in Florida.  I held off on posting because my intention with this blog is not only to share with you what’s on my heart, but to create a space that speaks to your heart.  I wasn’t sure if what I’d written would do that.  Then I realized that it would be less than honest to censor my heart.  So here’s what I wrote:  

Anger.  Disappointment.   Rage.  Disgust.  Pain.  Sadness.  Frustration.  Disillusionment.  These are just a few of the emotions felt by so many of us in the aftermath of the Zimmerman “not guilty” verdict.  Unless you’ve been in a coma, under a rock or just landed from another planet you are now aware that 29 year old George Zimmerman was found “not guilty” of the February 26, 2012 murder of 17 year old Trayvon Martin in Florida.  The emotion for far too many of us were NOT having was shock or surprise.  After all, take a look at the basic facts:  Florida.  White man (for all intents and purposes) shoots and kills an unarmed Black boy.  The jury (5 white and 1 hispanic woman) find him not guilty.  Of course, we’d hoped this time would be different from the hundreds of other times this crime has occurred in America.  We’d hoped that once the jury returned with  a “guilty” verdict we’d be able to exhale the breath we’re always holding.  We hoped we’d be able to tell our Black sons that they really do matter. Instead we had to return (or maybe have for the first time depending on the age of your son, nephew, grandson, etc.) to the conversations we’ve had in the past about living Black and Male in a nation that begins criminalizing them before they leave grade school.  We had to tell them how much we love them and how special and important they REALLY are and hope that message gets past all they see reflected in the world. 

We had to AGAIN dry our tears, clear our minds, and steel our souls…in preparation for the next time.  Some of us told our sons to stay away from guns; that they were dangerous; that they weren’t toys.  Do we now have to add hoodies in our “dangerous weapon” speeches?  It is not uncommon to hear other Black parents talk about the “Driving, Walking While Black” sermons we’ve preached so that our sons could be “seen” by others as we see them.  Do we now have to warn them about a simple item of clothing, worn by white boys without concern for their safety or “threat” to their neighborhoods?

The question that will more than likely remain with us always, burying itself deep into our spirits; finding it’s way into the salt of our tears, is how can America call itself a FREE country when we allow grown men to shoot and kill unarmed boys in the street?  I’m reminded of the words of Nelson Mandela (and inspired to keep my head up and not become bitter) in his 1990 tour following his release from prison, “I am not free, until we all are free.”

Until a Black, male child can walk home from the store with snacks without being seen as “suspicious”, our fancy alarm systems, guard dogs and security bars simply provide an illusion of safety.  Until the Trayvons of the world are seen and treated as valuable members of our society, despite their attire, we are not free. 

Where do we go from here?  To another rally or candlelight vigil?  Somehow today, that doesn’t seem like enough.