March 14, 2012 by Kyle
The tragedy of Travyon Martin stings. I have an 8 year old son who deals with everyday things that kids his age deal with. He loves electronics, Bey Blades, drawing and sports. As an African American father I have tried my best to prepare him for life outside of the home—specifically the university, career and a family of his own. I know he is going to need to navigate through various assumptions about his character and ability because of his color. He will need to endure wrong assumptions and yet remain calm and professional throughout the whole ordeal. If he does his homework, prays, learns the Scriptures, marries the right woman, remains drug free, etc. will he still experience what Trayvon experienced on March 13th? I don’t know, I hope not…Lord knows I hope and pray that someone with power will not assume the worst because of willful ignorance and bigotry.
So what do I do with this young black man…where do I hide him so that he at least has a chance to be successful? I mean I not only want to hide him from gun toting men like George Zimmerman but also from characters like Lil Wayne who have been accepted as the overly tatted, pants sagging (underwear showing), filth spouting role model for young black men. I can’t hide him, I know that—but I want to protect him from the ills of an unjust society. I wish I could convince him that folks don’t see skin color—I mean look at our President…right? How do I convince my son that there is this dichotomy in the land we call home? We have an African American President but yet there is still the reality of systemic and structural racism throughout the land. Furthermore, how do I convince my son that this country was birthed upon the foundation of the elusive ‘Judeo-Christian values’— but yet knowing that the sacred national documents defended the oppression and discrimination of indigenous and enslaved peoples?
These ‘Founding Fathers’ accepted a lot of the sacred Scriptures but seemed to avoid the passages which addressed class, race and the pitfalls of chasing after wealth and privilege on the backs of their fellow image-bearers. Their willful ignorance or disobedience allowed them to remain wealthy and emboldened by the ‘Doctrine of Discovery’, or as it was known contextually, ‘Manifest Destiny’. The “City on a Hill” that the early Puritans hoped for does exist but there is a ghetto next to a gated community. I am not sure what was going through Zimmerman’s mind but he feared this 17 year old boy. I can only assume that Zimmerman’s power trippin plus his fear of blackness led him to eliminate Travyon and therefore assuage his fear(s). The opportunity to eliminate fear may have been the motivating factor that led Zimmerman to carry and use his gun. Zimmerman exercised his 2nd Amendment Rights to eliminate the threat of “tea and some Skittles”.
Would it be outlandish to say that the value of life is only legitimate when the life in question resembles the powerful?Perhaps he was high on the power of being a present day ‘Minute Man’—ready to remove the threat of foreign tyranny? I don’t know what was going through Zimmerman’s mind but I have seen and experienced the sting of a funeral for a teenager. I have personally experienced the loss of a loved one and I pray for the parents of Trayvon Martin as they try to make sense of this mess. I know that George Zimmerman’s actions as well as his status as a freeman is in direct conflict with the values found in the pages of Scriptures. I am left with trusting God to protect my son and my daughter as they walk up and down the mean streets of the hood and suburbia.