Trayvon Martin Syndrome
Like the rest of the country, I sat and watched as the Martin/Zimmerman Case was tried not only before Judge Debra Nelson but also in the court of public opinion. I listened as the living room lawyers and armchair prosecutors on TV presented their facts to their jury. I listened as black people once again prepared themselves for another miscarriage of justice. I watched as America prepared itself for the outcome of a trial that was put on display solely for the sake of the public’s thirst for drama. As I watched, I sat selfishly thinking this trial didn’t affect me directly. After all I didn’t know Trayvon Martin nor his family, I wasn’t from Florida, and I didn’t wear hoodies. So outside of once being a black teenager I didn’t believe I was directly affected by this case at all. I understood how America valued black life. To us this was another young black male in a long line of murders at the hands of white America that would most likely walk away free.
This case didn’t affect me directly till last night. I decided to venture out and walk to the store, to get something for my daughter. It was a warm night, slightly breezy but the air was still thick with humidity. As I made my way to the store, I walked through the streets I have known for at least thirty years. The neighborhood is a mix of black and white middle class working people. The residents are in their late 50’s early 60’s with a few teenagers scattered about. I know the streets, I know the people. I could walk these streets blindfolded. As I made my way to the store, I suddenly felt as though I was being followed. I stopped several times to make sure there wasn’t an additional set of footsteps. Suddenly I felt paranoid and afraid. my heart began to race, as did my emotions. My mind immediately gravitated towards the night Trayvon went to the store for tea and skittles. As I made my way down through the pathway to the schoolyard, I took out my key chain flashlight and began waving it about, scanning the area for any one lurking in the dark. I made it to the store relieved as the parking lot was well-lit. Exiting the store, I come across a police officer sitting in his car. As we made eye contact my anxiety heightened and the rush of fear came again. Did I look suspicious to him? I am sure he was aware of the case. Was I being profiled? Did I fit a certain stereotype? I hurried home with my purchase walking faster than ever now. Sweat pouring down my face. I entertain the idea of calling someone but decided against it because I wanted to be totally aware of my surroundings. As I neared my street, a rabbit darted from underneath some bushes pushing me into a brief sprint. As I trotted, my only thought was my front porch, my base, my safety net. As I put my keys in the door and saw the smiling face of my children I felt safe, relieved and comforted knowing I got another chance to be with my family. I kissed my babies sat down and thanked the Creator. As I reviewed my trip to the store, the effects of the trial became apparent to me. I indeed was affected, the drama I tried to avoid had crept into my conscience, invaded my psyche and embedded itself in my mind and heart. America succeeded in its effort to keep us afraid, scared and in our place. I am a black man in America, IAM SCARED, I AM TRAYVON MARTIN!