I admit it. I was one of the”first responders” to the Trayvon Martin shooting. Outraged, I inundated my Facebook page with posts and updates of the vile incident, hoping to incite those within my circle of web influence to action. I signed the petition circulated by change.org to have George Zimmerman arrested…pronto. I then forwarded the petition to any and all on my email contact list. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t communicated with over half of them in months, maybe even years. All that mattered was that Trayvon Martin was a cause worth fighting for. Then days later, I began to become disheartened with the turn the case began to take. As a spectator of the media circus led by ringleaders like Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, I asked myself the question. What exactly are we fighting for?
I often herald the phrase “perception is reality.” On every television channel there was mention of Trayvon Martin. Trayvon on FOX, Trayvon on CNN, Trayvon on MSNBC. I AM TRAYVON had become an international phenomenon. But somehow, during the news’ delivery of his death whether print, radio, television or internet, the truth was lost in translation. We were given snippets of information and snapshots of truth from varied perspectives that told the same story; a white man killed an unarmed young black male who was coming from the store. The undertones of the message quickly surfaced to mean that this was a typical case of racial profiling and Trayvon Martin was killed by a racist man who bought into the stereotype that hooded black males were up to no good. Instead of objectivity, fact-based non judgmental reporting, the general public was exposed to gross ideas, heinous speculations and human perspectives.
The tragedy that is Trayvon Martin is a missed opportunity. A missed opportunity to pursue truth, justice and the American way. An opportunity to evaluate, analyze, criticize and revisit, laws and statutes within our criminal justice system that are unfair, imbalanced and often nonsensical. A chance to become legal advocates, vehicles of change, proponents of justice for all who have suffered unjustly regardless of the color of their skin. Instead, we were hooked by the race baiting perpetuated by media personalities, political opportunists and showboaters with a different perspective.
The tragedy that is Trayvon Martin has made me realize that the African-American community is lacking a great black voice of reason, wise enough to squelch racial tension, bridge divides and provide a perspective of unadulterated truth. Despite the fact, that we enjoy the governance of the first black President, there has yet to be a transformation of thought in the souls of black folks. Consider the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. They understood the need to evolve during their journeys and before their untimely deaths they both looked at where they had been, where they were and where they intended to go. Unfortunately, neither lived long enough to get there. Yet even sadder is the realization that there has been no one since to take us.
The comparison of Trayvon Martin’s death to that of Emmett Till is a desecration of Emmett’s memory and the struggle that men and women of color battled in order to maintain dignity, self-respect and civil rights during a crucial period in history. Is there not a cause? Yes, there is and it still is a cause worth fighting for. But we have to realize that the shooting death of Trayvon Martin is not a black tragedy, it’s an American tragedy and in order to become “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” we must first begin with ourselves and be willing to change perspectives.