Where do I begin? I heard your name for the first time thanks to a tweet in my timeline and read your story. I was immediately outraged but ever skeptical of biting into a quick read/react cycle I held back on re-tweeting anything or signing any petitions. I added your name to my Google News home page to keep up with the case.
No matter what came of it though, I kept on getting stuck on one detail – you were simply walking home from the store. It was raining, so you had your hood up from your hoodie to cover your head.
Of course you wore a hoodie! The vast majority of male (and even female) teens do. I know mine has told me more than once that the hoodie only comes off when he’s at home – maybe – and for PE or football practice. Otherwise..well…look at the photo I posted from his learner’s permit:
Black hoodie – down off his head for the photo, but there nonetheless. Really, how much different does he look from you?
Two teenaged boys. Wearing hoodies. Mine has walked to and from school and the store before. He’s walked home at night before. I would not even question allowing him to walk to the Baskin Robbins on the corner for some ice cream. He has his own money and a cell phone. He’ll be fine! Right? In fact, I am 100% confident that had he been walking through your apartment complex that night he would have been fine. Completely and totally fine.
You should have been fine Trayvon. You should have been able to walk home without hassle. You were doing NOTHING WRONG. NOTHING. Walking. Talking on the phone. With your hoodie up. That’s IT. There was absolutely no logical reason for a guard, or policeman, or neighborhood watchman to ask you what you were doing. None.
But see, there is a big difference there. I’m parenting a son who doesn’t ever have to be aware of how the color of his skin – or his general racial background – might be threatening to the people he walks past. I don’t have to warn him about doing his best to appear as harmless as possible. I don’t have to carry around that extra layer of fear in my heart that he could be detained by police or confronted by someone simply because of the color of his skin.
We don’t talk about “Driving while white.”
We don’t talk about “Walking while white.”
And Trayvon, when an adult neighborhood watchman did confront you? Of course you were scared! Of course you were probably confused beyond belief. Because all you were doing was walking home. With Skittles and an iced tea. Talking on your phone. YOU felt threatened. YOU were the one who was not safe. YOU were the one who screamed for help out of fear for your life. Of course you fought back! YOU were the one attacked when you should not have been. They say your attacker is free thanks to a self defense oriented Stand Your Ground Law in Florida. How about YOUR right to Stand Your Ground? All you had was your fists. No match against a much larger adult and his gun confronting you for NO LOGICAL REASON.
As all the details come out about how those last minutes of your life were spent, as it becomes more and more clear how WRONG it is that the man who pulled the trigger is not in jail, something I read yesterday made flame spit out my ears:
“We are taking a beating over this,” said (Sanford Police Chief Bill) Lee, who defends the investigation. “This is all very unsettling. I’m sure if George Zimmerman had the opportunity to relive Sunday, Feb. 26, he’d probably do things differently. I’m sure Trayvon would, too.”
Trayvon, there is not one damn thing you could have done differently because you did nothing wrong. Nothing. Blaming you in any way for what happened is like blaming a rape victim for wearing provocative clothes and “asking for it”. Why the hell our society feels the need to shame victims in order to somehow lessen the guilt for the damage done by their attackers is beyond me.
I sure don’t. Society didn’t fail George Zimmerman.
Society failed YOU Travyon.
Because YOU should be FINE.
You. Should. Be Fine. You should be safe, and ALIVE and home and fine.
I hope, at least, that you can feel the love from all of us.