Trayvon Martin: An Opportunity for Introspection, Honesty and Dialogue

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Hoodie MarchA senseless tragedy occurred on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, FL. However, we’ve just recently begun to learn about it. The specifics about what happened and when are still coming to light, but this much is known: 17 year-old Trayvon Martin is dead, killed by self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. Trayvon caught the attention of Zimmerman. Wearing a hoodie (the style of youth, and it was raining) he carried his cell phone, a bag of Skittles and can of iced tea back to where he was visiting. Zimmerman (multiracial) considered Trayvon suspicious, because, darn it, he was black. Zimmerman called 911 about his concerns and was told not to follow Trayvon. Apparently he did. And then he shot him.

Why do I write of this here? Because this incident is important and infuriating, from the killing to how law enforcement and the media initially handled the case—the nonexistent value of Trayvon. Because parents who adopt transracially need to hear about Trayvon.

Parents can take something from this awful incident that has erupted into a firestorm nationwide—awareness that, even though this is 2012, many haven’t overcome prejudice and racism. Awareness that many people may view their children as not belonging, to them or the communities in which they live. Awareness that when their children grow into teens and young adults, they might make people who don’t know them and their families very nervous and or reactive, just for being themselves and living their lives.

Trayvon was considered an outsider by Zimmerman, and he lost his life because of it. And because he was assumed to be from somewhere else, his body remained in the morgue, a ”John Doe,” for several days. What has happened is outrageous and beyond shame. What took so long?

Food for Thought: How does what happened to Trayvon affect how you will “arm” your child about prejudice and racism? What changes might you makes to advocate for your family and others? What do you feel is the perceived value of ethnic  teens?

~ Photo by David Shankbone

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