We both know it: I am NOT Trayvon’s Mother

Moms Demand Action - Trayvon's MotherSee now, here’s the thing. I did the hoodie picture. I wept for the teenaged boys I taught. I wrote about how they were getting frisked for hanging out while being brown. I got angry. I got angry. I got angry.

And last night, when I heard that Trayvon Martin’s murderer was acquitted, I was stunned, confused, horrified. I hadn’t watched any of the proceedings, so really, I can’t comment with any authority. I saw snippets from the passionate #J4TM folks on Twitter, but I didn’t watch.

Soon enough, my horror turned to sadness, a deep and abiding sadness for Trayvon’s family, for all of us, but especially for mothers of brown boys. Because I can say, “I am Trayvon Martin’s mother” all morning, all day, and all night. But the fact is, I’m not. My son, despite looking just as sweet in winter photos, doesn’t look much like Trayvon Martin. And that takes one or two or three layers of fear from my shoulders as I think about him becoming a teenager and going out on evening errands on his own.

The truth is, that even though my children may have dangers and trouble and trials, and even though they might be targeted because of their privilege and whiteness, this verdict, however it came about, says that it’s not a crime to follow, stalk, accost, and then react violently to a teenager who is suspect because of the color of his skin.

And nothing is different about that today than it was yesterday or the day before. And it is NOT hopeless. To say so is to diminish the gains so many fought for and worked for and died for. But it’s a long, hard road. It’s a road with many side streets and diversions. But it’s one we must, we must, we must keep traveling for all of our children. Bad laws need changing. Bad stereotypes need exposure and changing. And bad policies regarding guns need tightening.

So, no. I am NOT Trayvon Martin’s mother. But I am responsible, just as you are, for making sure that complacency in that privileged position does not stifle my conscience. We are members of the country and the society that changes the channel on the health crisis that is gun violence in the United States of America. And because of that, we are responsible for your family’s safety as well as my family’s safety.

So get to it. Because the soap box, the ballot box, the high horse, the editor’s inbox, the petition site, the elected representative, the child next door – they all need your action, your voice, your righteous indignation at injustice.

Anger ebbs and flows. Perseverance must not. Work it out.

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About That Unique* Weblog

Adjusting to the car culture, dealing with leaving a career I love, and spouting off along the way.
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31 Responses to We both know it: I am NOT Trayvon’s Mother

  1. This post made me bang on the table in agreement. Privilege should not and cannot stifle conscience–and privilege should not be created by simple accidents like the color of one’s skin.

  2. Stacie says:

    I am all of those things too. You said it so well. But I sure wish you didn’t have to.

  3. MamiSili says:

    Great post and so true. Thank you for your words of hope.

  4. Pingback: Open letter to a little boy in a scary world. | They call me Mummy

  5. Thank you for saying this so eloquently. I am married to a Black man in Texas, as we married when I was in my very early forties I can only say quietly to myself today, I so grateful we chose to not have children early in our marriage. I do not know how I would have handled my fear today.

  6. Christina says:

    I was astounded when I heard the news. So damn sad and sick. Awesome post.

  7. Karen says:

    Eloquent, articulate, powerful. Thank you.

  8. Sam Merel says:

    You can’t seen me, but I nodded my agreement all the way through this post and then went back to read it again. So incredibly well said.

  9. Larks says:

    Yes! Choosing to ignore a major societal issue because my kid won’t face these particular hurdles and heart aches is not okay. I really appreciate your action links at the end of this post. Great piece!

  10. Well said! I completely agree. Yes, it seems overwhelming at times, but we can’t give up and we must believe that we can make a difference!

  11. Kristin, thanks for posting this. Anyone who thinks Trayvon Martin would be dead if he were a white boy is a fool. This is about nothing but race. And even if it is presumptuous to put ourselves in Travyon’s mother’s shoes, we are all of us humans, and we need to speak up against racism, even when it’s uncomfortable.

    • Kristin says:

      Yes — and I refuse to accept that my permission to be active and loud depends on my situation. Because situations change, but my morals will (hopefully) remain the same.

  12. Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you for writing this – and writing it so well. A Florida woman received a 20 year sentence (she declined the plea bargain and took her chances at trial) for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57433184/fla-mom-gets-20-years-for-firing-warning-shots/ I guess the lesson learned is that if you’re a white male with a gun, you can do what you like. Frightening.

    • Kristin says:

      In Florida, it’s definitely the perception! And since I’m answering this many months later, I’m sad to say that Florida still has that problem. Absolutely infuriating.

  13. Erica M says:

    My favorite Twitter comedy tweet on the subject: I just flew in from Florida and, boy, are my arms tired from shooting anyone I wanted.

    Excellent post. I’m still sharing it places…

  14. I was so horrified, then sad, then exhausted. It wasn’t fun seeing other peoples’ reactions, either, because now I know things about them I’d rather not know. It’s been a sad, hard last few days.

    • It’s also important to know that this case is, sadly, not unique. Gun violence is rampant, and it has all different color and situation combinations. This case received attention thanks to Trayvon’s parents and a very diligent HuffPo reporter who “wouldn’t let it go.” There are lots of other situations that don’t get as much attention. We can work to prevent them. That is what keeps me from sinking — working!

  15. I’m not shocked by the verdict. What shocks me is the racist, bigoted comments on Facebook supporting the verdict.

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