Thursday, March 29, 2012


You guys knew I couldn't keep silent forever about the Trayvon Martin killing, but if you are expecting a blog post echoing the outrage that fills television news, you're sorely mistaken.

This post is about Trayvon. More, it's about what our society loses every time a child is killed. Trayvon makes headlines because of the unusual confluence of him wearing a hoodie, being armed with a box of Skittles and a can of iced tea, walking while black. It's about a law that allows people with guns to use them if they feel threatened. I don't know if George Zimmerman was attacked or felt threatened. I do know the police told him not to follow the boy. He made his choice.

More, though, it's about our loss of future leaders, workers, thinkers, fathers, mothers. Taking the life of a child damages our collective future. We lost more than just a single life. We lost all that single life could have contributed to his family, his community, his country. Children die violently nearly every day in the United States. In one weekend alone, more than a dozen children under the age of sixteen were murdered, died in gang violence, were the targets of vigilantes.

I'm guilty of crossing the street when four hoodie-wearing black teens walked toward me on Park Avenue. I was scared. I judged them by the color of their skin, the way they walked, their hoodies. I don't know if they were doing anything more than walking down the same sidewalk I was. I'll never know. I do know I'll never get over feeling guilty of judging them.

It's chilly today. I'm sitting here wearing a hoodie, but as an angry, 60+ white woman, I don't feel someone will shoot me for my fashion choice. It wasn't the fault of the hoodie. It was the fault of society for damning all hoodie-wearing young men to being a threat. We must learn that every life lost to violence diminishes society. We must protect ourselves, our communities, our children. When we do not, we put boys like Trayvon at risk of being a threat.

When does it stop? When do we value every life? When do we write laws that make sense? When do we enforce laws already on the books? When do we use common sense? Too often, common sense is a most uncommon commodity.