From the time the Trayvon Martin story emerged, I said I wouldn’t say anything. I heard the story of teenaged Trayvon Martin…murdered and the murder justified by a flaky FL “Stand Your Ground” law. When it first occurred, there were pictures all over facebook with “protestors” who had photos of themselves in hoodies of assorted colors. Usually, it was accompanied by a subtitle that read “I am Trayvon Martin.” Despite the fact that is was done quickly and on a social networking site we must admit these are powerful statements from a generation that is always accused of being “lost.” They marched. They got angry. They found direction.
How many classroom debates have I taken part in where the pivotal question is always “Where is your revolutionary spirit?” As an ethnic and cultural studies major, I’ve often wondered what it would take to truly piss us off. What occurrence would spark rebellion as opposed to temporary controversy? In my short lifetime I’ve experienced 9-11, the *Amadou Diallo case, the **Sean Bell murder, *** Rodney King and I’ve even witnessed a few heated family arguments about the OJ Simpson trial. Maybe I was too young to accurately assess the weight these events had on society at the time. What I can say is I have a t-shirt that has a photo of ****Emmett Till on the front and the back says “Little Shop of Horrors” with a full description of the story of the unjust murder of Emmett Till and I wear it proudly. I’m never concerned about whether it will be an uncomfortable conversation piece between someone of another race and myself. The fact remains; it is a piece of our American history and it is something that we should be ashamed of. What broke my silence on this case is the shirt Jamie Foxx wore to the 2012 BET awards. I quickly thought about my Emmett Till shirt and realized I am witnessing another shameful tragedy in American History.
On Monday 7/2/12, the Daily News did a brief on a mural that is being painted in East New York in honor of the slain Florida teen. In today’s Daily News, there is a brief on the outrage expressed by Rev. Al Sharpton in regards to the second bail release of Zimmerman and all the financial support he has been getting from the public via internet financial donations. The Trayvon Martin case has a lot to do with the generational undying social construct of race and racism. I personally feel like it is a time for societal introspection. Simply, we have a law that allows you to shoot a human being dead if they are scary. I wouldn’t do that to a dog. I cried during Bambi when his father died. There is something inhumane about this story. What makes them scary you may ask? A hoodie. This young man was 6’2” 140-150 lbs. That’s not a big guy. Have you ever seen a young man that tall at that weight? There was nothing scary about this boy with his bag of Skittles. I don’t care how many times I read the story from the perspective of Zimmerman. There is no way on the face of the planet that he can convince me that he was intimidated by this teenaged boy with his baby face. Why didn’t he shoot to injure? Why did he kill him?
If we remove prejudice and all the stereotypical bull fed to us by media, we would have no way of judging one another. How would you know your neighbor is “poor white trash”? How would you know your co-worker is a chicken eating, watermelon picking, Bergamot scalp oiling, rapping, “NIGGER”? Those thoughts were fed to you, subliminally. It’s those same thoughts that gave gun-toting Zimmerman the self-appointing right to end a young man’s life. Fight the power. If not…you can ShutYaMouthAndCallMeUgly
-Shaun M. Nickens
* Amadou Diallo was a 23-year-old immigrant shot and killed Feb of 1999 by New York City’s Finest
**Sean Bell was slain in 2006 by NYPD the night before his anticipated wedding day
***Rodney King was beaten harshly by LAPD in 1991. After the officers were acquitted, riots began and could only be stopped by military force.
****Emmett Till was a 14-year-old African-American boy brutally murdered for whistling at a white woman in Mississippi in 1955