Saturday 30th September 2017



The Specter Who Haunts Me

Trayvon Martin haunts me. I read his name in the newspaper, in a magazine, in an essay, and his face lights up in my mind. That still soft, round baby face of a child with the wide eyes saying, “Here I come world!” Those eyes could have belonged to one of the hundreds of Black males I taught over the years. Open. Honest. Questioning and waiting. The eyes of someone like Vivian, Tracey, Webster, Juan, Jolyon, Marcus. Young men/boys who weren’t children but not yet men either. Looking at life; looking at society. Asking what did it offer them.
I look at Trayvon, a face frozen in time, and wonder how we failed him. Failed all of them. As their teacher I tried to prepare them for a world outside our school doors. I taught them about work skills and resumes and being respectful. I didn’t know that, as a White woman, I could never prepare them for a world that devalued them and often hated them because their skin was a rich chocolate color. I could never know the depth and extent of the hate and fear they would encounter. If I had known, I would have wept for them and the futility of my paltry offering of ‘preparing’ them for the world.
Trayvon was for me the awakening to the fact that Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., had failed. No one can make White America accept African Americans as our brothers and sisters. The fact that a grown armed man was excused from murdering an unarmed child out of his fear of that child’s skins color is unthinkable. That the myths and lies about people of color have been perpetuated for hundreds of years, and are so held as truth that it becomes an accepted reason to kill someone, goes against all our government has been built on. And yet, in recent years we have seen it time and time again.
Trayvon Martin haunts me. His youth, his promise, his future haunt me. We will never know who he would have become. All that is lost. For all we know George Zimmerman may have killed the person who could have saved the world.


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