The Ghost of Trayvon Martin
Ghosts exist—in the sense that when a
horrible crime has been committed against a person, it is not only a
crime against an individual; it is a crime against humanity. When
justice for that crime is denied, the injustice infiltrates the psyche
of the community, and even of the world. It’s the lingering malfeasance–the ghosts–in the collective consciousness that
overthrew the wrongs in South Africa and conquered the Nazis. The night that Trayvon
Martin was killed, the 911 responder told
Martin’s killer not to take matters into his own hands. The killer did
anyway, and bragged when selling his gun on-line that it was the one
that killed Martin. This is serious. A seventeen year old boy was shot
dead; there was no penalty, and the killer bragged. No society can allow
this to happen and call itself civilized.
Since then, unarmed black men have been
shot by policemen. African-American [AfrAms] are worried about how
they can protect their sons and how their husbands can survive. Young AfrAm women write about how they might teach their sons to conduct
themselves to avoid being a victim. A young AfrAm man made a widely-watched video about how to respond if stopped by a policeman. His father
is a EurAm policeman who feared for his son and taught him how to
avoid the dangers of police-AfrAm interaction. This is something that
we EuroAms may have difficulty imagining.
Still, we have never understood the
antagonism against “Black Lives Matter.” Nothing in those three words
implies that white lives don’t matter.
In addition, we don’t understand the
hostility toward kneeling during the national anthem. Kneeling is the
most dignified and respectful form of protest there is. Kneeling
has been supplication for millennia. Objecting to that sign of distress over horrific
events is evidence of ignorance about current situations.
PBS has a page dedicated to addressing
violence against this part of our people. They list ten Rules of
Survival for black kids stopped by police.
Ten Rules of
Survival if Stopped by Police
How many EurAms can imagine having to
teach their kids methods for surviving when they go out on a simple
errand? Think about the fear evident in the PBS advice below:
There is a growing movement across the country represented by the
hashtag #BlackLivesMatter that is driving awareness to the number of
young Black men and women who are shot and killed during confrontations
For many, the story of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner and too
many others, have become symbols of the larger social divides in
America, exposing the harsh and complex realities of race, class and
identity. And for many African-American families, to be Black is to be
at an extraordinary risk (Federal data shows that, in recent years,
young black males are 21 times more likely to be shot dead than their
This led PBS station WFYI, in partnership with the SALT Project, Trinity
United Church of Christ and Christian Theological Seminary to develop
the short film: "Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival."
10 Rules of Survival if Stopped by the Police
polite and respectful when stopped by the police. Keep your mouth
that your goal is to get home safely. If you feel that your rights have
been violated, you and your parents have the right to file a formal
complaint with your local police jurisdiction.
under any circumstance, get into an argument with the police.
remember that anything you say or do can be used against you in court.
your hands in plain sight and make sure the police can see your hands at
physical contact with the police. No sudden movements, and keep hands
out of your pockets.
not run, even if you are afraid of the police.
if you believe that you are innocent, do not resist arrest.
make any statements about the incident until you are able to meet with a
lawyer or public defender.
calm and remain in control. Watch your words, body language and
Trayvon Martin was shot dead without cause. But he will be with us
for a long time.
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