Musings on Trayvon

Published On: Apr 04 2012 10:48:01 AM EDT
Updated On: Apr 04 2012 04:11:30 PM EDT

MIAMI -

I meant to write as we drove back from covering Trayvon Martin's case in Sanford, but I kept running into roadblocks - the mental kind - the ones that crop up when conflicting and confounding observations, facts, theories and perspectives just won't coalesce into logic and sense. 

And they still haven't completely.  So many voices are weighing in on the latest elements of the evidence almost daily.  Truth is, only two people know exactly what happened that rainy February evening on the path behind the homes in that gated community in Sanford.  Trayvon Martin is not alive to say, and George Zimmerman has a vested interest in making his actions and intentions seem pure. 

That said, there is an obvious truth here, no matter what the facts and motivations ultimately prove to be.  And that is, we are a hurting nation, divided in ways both obvious and subtle.

With all I may have in common as parents with Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, it never once occurred to me to teach my daughters how to behave around someone who may be suspicious of them for no reason.  My friends who know that well, who have given their children just that lesson, they call it "walking while black", or "driving while black".    

I struggle with how to help my girls understand that a boy, their same age, who knew people in common, was killed by a guy out to protect his neighborhood.  Do I call it a crime?  It's not that simple.  Do I bring up race?  How can I not?  

Will they, in a generation that may be the first to grow up color-blind, grasp how and why others are not?  And that there are people who are good people, who generally mean well, who may act in ways that are ugly and demeaning to others?  My girls have experienced prejudice because of our religion; that certainly gives them a foundation for understanding.  But how do you help a child understand the insidious culture of bigotry that breeds people who will be the first to genuinely deny they discriminate? 

In the last few weeks, we have been to more than a few rallies in Sanford and South Florida, all those gatherings focused on a single, indignant, angry call for justice.  Whatever justice may turn out to be in Trayvon's particular case, there is no denying the existence of injustice every day, on some level. Trayvon has just given it a focus, an icon.  

Today, April 4th, marks the day Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was fatally shot 44 years ago

Two generations later, in Sanford, Florida, his words blasted from speakers to thousands gathered in a public park: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

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