By NICK CHILES
It’s been a year since Trayvon Martin pierced our consciousness.
It has been a year that may even bring about some changes in the way the nation views and treats gun violence. Maybe. It still remains to be seen whether our lawmakers will have the courage to actually change the laws that govern how easily Americans can blow each other away.
Of course, the Trayvon story is still in the media, as we follow all the pre-trial dramas of George Zimmerman. When he actually goes on trial for the murder of Trayvon, shining a very public spotlight on the irrationality of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, the case will jump onto the front pages again.
As others have noted, MyBrownBaby was one of the first media sources in the country to note the larger implications of Trayvon’s murder. We helped to put the story on the front pages. When my wife Denene showed me a wire service report out of Florida on a press conference held by Trayvon’s parents, who were trying to bring attention to the fact that Zimmerman still hadn’t been arrested two weeks after he shot their son to death, I immediately thought about my own son. He is a young black male who had been pulled over by police in our subdivision several times by police; we had gotten nervous emails from neighbors in the subdivision reporting that there had been a couple of burglaries. Those were all the steps that could lead to something tragic. I knew I had to pen something meaningful, quickly. After I did, sites like The Root soon followed suit.
After Trayvon was killed, his parents wanted to make sure that other parents saw their own children when they saw Trayvon. But it wasn’t necessary for them to push the matter with us. At MyBrownBaby, we had already made that mental turn.
For black parents, Trayvon never leaves us. He is always there, in the backs of our minds, as a reminder of what can happen to our black male child when he leaves the house. Or, these days, when adorable girls like 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton can get gunned down while hanging in the park, we have to worry about our girls, too. Trayvon and Hadiya and Jordan Davis, who also was shot and killed in Florida, and many others who have been lost since last February all become lodged deep in the psyches of black parents. This is something we have been living with for generations in the U.S.—every generation is haunted by its own brutal killing, from Emmett Till to 4 little girls in Birmingham to Yusuf Hawkins to Trayvon.
It is clear to me that Trayvon’s name doesn’t have to be in the headlines to occupy a permanent place in my mind. His kind, sweet face will always stare back at me inside that gray hoodie. As long as I have occasion to worry about the plight of black boys in America, Trayvon will remain a part of me. And I am sure I am not alone. For many of us, Trayvon’s name will stand for innocence stolen. Promise lost. The need for all of us to protect our young ones from the jittery hand of a frightened stranger.
And there’s still quite a bit of this: Outrage. Trayvon Martin will stand for that, too.
1. Teenager Killed in Florida by Neighborhood Watch Brings Terror To My Heart
2. The Nation Is Watching: the Killer of Trayvon Martin MUST Be Arrested (UPDATE)
3. 911 Tapes In The Trayvon Martin Killing Reveal He Begged For Help; Zimmerman Shot Twice (UPDATE)
4. Another Black Boy, Another Senseless Murder When Will It Stop?