What should I say about this latest tear in our societal fabric, the young Black boy shot and killed in Florida because the self-assigned "neighborhood watch captain" thought he looked suspicious? I have simultaneous strands of feelings about the case of Trayvon Martin, all of which are too long to explore and still somewhat unresolved in myself.
But this story hits me primarily as a mother. Squarely, like a fist, it hits me dead center in my chest. In that paramount role of my life, I can't imagine what his mother is going through, how she wakes up in a world where her son no longer exists, how she breathes without suffocating on tears. I think of her waking up tomorrow and tomorrow and the tomorrow after that, never to touch her child, to fuss at him about picking up his clothes or to hug him after he comes home from school, to never tell him how much she loves him. I wonder what happens to a mother's dreams when in an instant, they all float away like helium-filled balloons.
As a mother of Black children, I feel unsafe for my children and unsure of what to tell them. Like many many others, maybe like Trayvon's mother, I push my children to do well in school and I make them dress appropriately in clean, neat clothes and speak intelligently to people. I expect that everyone will accept them for the beautiful creatures that they are and I want the world to open their arms to them and let them become the asset to the human race that I think they will be. I imagine Trayvon's mom had the same hopes for her son. I tell my children to watch for cars when they cross the street and swim with a partner, not to talk to strangers and don't open the door for people they don't know. I don't know how to tell them, what to tell them, about protecting themselves from someone who wishes them harm for no reason. I imagine, Trayvon's mother never imagined that she'd have to explain that to her son, either.
I know there's the debate that's raging about the actions of the responding officers and the police chief and the FBI or CIA and federal law and state law. I saw today that President Obama issued a statement in which he said that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon. The newscasters and pundits and preachers and civic organizations are offering their thoughts and defenses and offenses and expert opinions on law and civil rights and racism and perceptions. There are rallies and FaceBook posts and Twitter feeds. People are wearing hoodies or not wearing hoodies and carrying Skittles (the candy he bought at the store before he died).
With the flurry of action, it seems that his murder has raised an uproar that will bring waves of change. It looks like people will be moved to action of some sort, maybe more neighborhood watch, more racial discussions, I'm not sure. It feels like people will come together and push for a change in the Floridian law that allows its citizens to shoot when and if they feel threatened by another person. It appears that people will organize to improve race relations in our society. With the high emotions, it seems that people will be able to work together to come up with a solution that keeps any person - Hispanic, White, Black, Asian, whatever - from shooting Black boys when they walk down the street.
But what next? Because tomorrow Trayvon's mother's tears will be joined by the tears of another mother. And the people will go home from the rallies. And the next tomorrow, another mother will shed her tears. And the people will eat their Skittles. And the next tomorrow, another mother will shed her tears and the people will hang up their hoodies. And the next tomorrow, another mother will shed her tears. And the people will forget all about Trayvon's mother's child.
May God embrace this young boy's soul and give his mother and father comfort.
What do you say to your Black son? Listen to this DC news anchor's advice - Jim Vance.