The Violent Potential of a Bag of Skittles

And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and remain there until I bring you word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. – Matthew 2:13

When I hear news like the murder of Trayvon Martin it makes me want to do like Mary and take my son and run all the way back to Africa.

America has a long and sordid history of hostility towards Black men and boys, and Trayvon’s murder is another tragic link in that chain of violence. Some people have fooled themselves into thinking that just because we have a Black president (mixed race if we are to speak accurately) then we’re in a post-racist society. I don’t know if these people recall the results, but Mr. Obama only won by 53%, hardly a landslide, and hardly an indicator of living in a society that does not look at many aspects through the lens of race.

If you have not heard about Trayvon Martin, here is a summary of events:

  • Trayvon left his father’s home around 7pm to get a bag of Skittles and an Arizona iced tea during an NBA All Star game.
  • He returned to his father’s gated community and encountered George Zimmerman, a 28 year old neighborhood watch crime captain
  • Zimmerman reported to police that someone suspicious was in their neighborhood
  • Soon after he made the call, he approached Trayvon and shot him in the chest, telling police it was in self-defense.
  • When police examine Trayvon’s body, they find $22, a can of iced tea, and a bag of Skittles.
  • Trayvon was 17 and now dead.
  • GeorgeZimmerman has still not been arrested.

I presume that the reason he remains free is because law enforcement is hesitant to “ruin a good man’s” life, never mind that he took the life of another man’s son.

I talked to my sister about it, and she had not heard about the case. She has a son who is about to turn one in a few months, and like me has put careful thought into plans for his future – even down to his mode of dress.

“Man, it’s not right. It shouldn’t be this way!” she decried. “Why should a Black boy be restricted in what he wears? How does a shirt suddenly make him a threat?”

“I dunno, but there’s something about a Black man in a sweatshirt that instantly makes him menacing!”

“Yeah…or if he’s armed with Skittles. There’s a real threat to society.”

There was a pause in our conversation while we mulled over how we might keep our boys safe in the future. If we dressed them for comfort, say in a pair of sweat pants and a hoodie, there would be the possibility that either could be shot by a frightened White guy because they “looked suspicious” and like they “didn’t belong” in their neighborhood. However, if we dressed them in argyle and sweater vests in order to look more preppy and mainstream, there would be a high possibility that they would get beat up by other Black boys for looking “soft”. What are we and our sons to do?

“I’ll take the beating,” concluded my sister. “I’d rather have my son come home with a few bruises than in a body bag.”

I hummed in agreement, noting that I have to remind myself that if he must go out unaccompanied, he must do so in a pair of Sperry’s. No one would shoot a boy wearing Sperry’s.

Have you raised a Black boy successfully? Were you able to shield him from the pervasive racism that pollutes our society? How were you able to accomplish that? Please let me and other concerned mothers know your secret, because at this point all I want to do is holler and throw up both my hands.

It is my sincere hope that the justice system of Sanford, Florida does the right thing and prosecutes George Zimmerman to the full extent of the law. He deserves a lengthy jail sentence for his violent and unjustified vigilante act. I hope they will, but I fear they won’t. We will see in time if my reasons for that fear is unfounded.

In the interim Trayvon’s mother is asking for help. Click here to sign her petition.

It’s been nearly two weeks and the Sanford Police have refused to arrest George Zimmerman. In their public statements, they even go so far as to stand up for the killer – saying he’s “a college grad” who took a class in criminal justice.

Please join us in calling on Norman Wolfinger, Florida’s 18th District State’s Attorney, to investigate my son’s murder and prosecute George Zimmerman for the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin.