By now I'm sure you've heard about the tragedy of Trayvon Martin, an African American teenager who was killed because of racial profiling. Friends who know that I study and blog about race have been sending me various articles, maybe wondering why I haven't commented so far. To be honest, I hesitate to jump into the conversation because I don't want to be just one more white person appropriating the suffering of African Americans. Plus, what is there to say that hasn't already been said? If this doesn't convince people that race still matters in America and that, for some, race is still a matter of life and death, well, there's nothing I can say or do to convince them otherwise.
So, I'll offer this reflection by Joyce B. from the website "RacismReview" for your consideration. In "How Does it Feel to be a Problem? A Reflection on Trayvon Martin," the author, the mother of a teenage African American male, describes the need to do something that I, as the mother of three white males, have never had to do. A friend of mine who is African American once called this "the talk" -- spelling out for the young man how to behave to avoid the very situation that Trayvon Martin found himself in on the night that he was killed.
And yes, I know that as of this posting all of the facts of the case have yet to come to light. Martin's parents claim that it was their son's voice pleading for help on the 911 recording, while Zimmerman claims that the voice was his and that he fired in self-defense. But one thing we do know for sure is that Trayvon Martin was unarmed and had every right to be in that gated community that night. We also know that George Zimmerman followed him against the direction of the 911 dispatcher. Had Zimmerman listened to the dispatcher and not allowed Trayvon's race to convince him that the teenager was up to no good, none of this would have happened.