Million Hoodies launched six years ago in the wake of the racist and horrific murder of Trayvon Martin. Today, what would have been Trayvon Martin’s 23rd birthday, the Million Hoodies NYC chapter launches their #Lifeat23 campaign to honor Trayvon and the lives lost from police brutality and gun violence. Too many lives from our communities are cut short due to systemic racist practices and prevents young Black and Brown children (and their families) from fulfilling their goals.
Million Hoodies invites you to share pictures and reflections of what life was like when you were 23, or alternatively, what you hope life would be like at the age of 23. Please use #LifeAt23 and share your posts over Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter.
At 23, I was still in the relatively safe space of graduate school. Even more, I was a Resident Director, living on campus and eating in the dining hall. It was a consuming job that enabled me to get through my degree without worrying about rent or meals, thus spectacularly, without any loans.
At 23, I remember thinking that the stress of graduate classes was the most intense stress I’d ever felt. The fear of judgment, the haunting suspicion that I wasn’t even close to the smartest person in the room, the nervousness of peer review and outspoken criticism, the nagging sense of un-belonging sparked because I rarely (ever?) took a class led by someone who looked like me all kept me anxious and on my toes.
At 23, I supervised a staff of six, ran a building of about 200, led workshops and mediations, planned events and trips, and disciplined college students when their experimentations and inability to live in harmony with others interfered too harshly with campus life.
At 23, I worked short stints at a local Friendly’s and answered a few calls for substitute teaching at the local high school. I took guitar lessons for a few months. I went to Chili’s for happy hour. I spent crisp and clear nights cross-country skiing in the campus Nature Preserve. I watched a lot of movies.
At 23, I was still a year from moving to NYC. I knew I would be a high school teacher, but I hadn’t yet looked into the steps to make it happen. I reveled in the safety and comfort of being a part of campus life; I felt secure in my job and my eventual graduation and that those around me supported me.
At 23, 25 years ago, I knew I was lucky and appreciated it. I worked hard and did more than expected. I learned both confidence and humility in academics and work. I was silly and serious and caring and apathetic.
Today would have been Trayvon Martin’s 23rd birthday. He never got a chance to choose a path or make 20-something mistakes or feel the anxiety and pride that comes with first time achievements. No matter how much I empathize and feel pain for his loss and what his family and loved ones have endured, I know that my experience as a white woman, even as a mother, mean that my day-to-day experiences are very different. As much as I may worry and fear for my children, I don’t have the additional anxiety and reality of a mother of children of color. Join me in honoring what could have been and what should have been for Trayvon and so many others for #LifeAt23.