14 July 2013

I Am Not Trayvon Martin's Mother

(Photo by Anoosh Jorjorian)
I interrupt this regularly scheduled blog because of an egregious case of injustice: the verdict in favor of George Zimmerman.

This morning, I received an email in
 response to this travesty from Moms Demand Action with the subject line: "Today, We Are All Trayvon Martin's Mother."

I understand what they are trying to say. I know they want us all to realize that gun violence can strike any of our children, anytime, as long as guns are unregulated in this country. I know that their hearts ache as mine does, as we imagine—or remember—what it is like to lose a child.

And yet, I cannot fully embrace this statement. My children, despite their 1/4 Filipino heritage, are not brown, and they will never be considered dangerous simply because of the color of their skins. No one will feel automatically threatened to see my son walking down the street in a hoodie. My children have the privilege of the light-skinned, and it will protect them up to a point.

Particularly after the mass shooting in my neighborhood, I am afraid that someone will shoot my kids. But I don't think I can compare my fear to the fear that mothers of young black men must feel. It's not just the chilling fact that young African-American men die at a greater rate than other young men, nor that the homicide rates for them far outstrip the homicide rates for young men of other races. 

It's the historical reverberations that I find especially devastating. I will never experience it myself. If, heaven forbid, either of my kids gets shot like Trayvon, it's not going to have the echo of over two hundred years of history of young black men killed simply for being young black men. Trayvon's death brought to mind a litany of names: Jordan Davis, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Ramarley Graham, Emmett Till. There are more whose names we know. There are more whose names we don't know

So I am not Trayvon Martin's mother. But it doesn't stop me from feeling wronged to my core and betrayed by my country. "Justice is indivisible. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."


What you can do:

- Sign the NAACP's petition to Attorney General Eric Holder calling on the Department of Justice to bring civil charges against George Zimmerman. 

- Donate to the Trayvon Martin Foundation. Dave Zirin posted earlier on Facebook that $450,000 was raised for George Zimmerman's defense. The Trayvon Martin Foundation raised $150,000. Sadly, we know that justice is not independent of finances, so please give what you can. 

- Join Moms Demand Action, the Brady Campaign, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (founded by Michael Bloomberg and Thomas Menino), and/or Americans for Responsible Solutions (founded by Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly) to stem the tide of gun violence in this country and to repeal Stand Your Ground laws. 

- Search #HoodiesUp and #NoJustice on Facebook and Twitter to find a vigil, demonstration, or march in your area.

- Go see the movie Fruitvale Station about the day Oscar Grant was shot down by BART transit police. Make sure Hollywood knows that these stories matter.

- Always write your representatives. The NRA continues to out-call, -write, and -tweet those of us who believe in common sense gun restrictions. We have to even the score.

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