Pop Culture, Race & Politics

In Honor Of Trayvon Martin And The #MillionHoodieMarch

Something dawned on me last night while reflecting on all the reading, listening, writing, tweeting, and talking I’ve devoted to all things Trayvon Martin in the last couple of days. Something feels different about this. 

Now, I realize that it could just be me. From Troy Davis and K.O.N.Y. to Tookie and Derrion Albert, there have been numerous recent instances of viral activism and virtual galvanization; causes we collectively championed and people we collectively cried for. I was not as taken by any of those as much as I’ve been taken by Trayvon Martin, and I accept the possibility that this “different feeling” could just be a bit of personal confirmation bias. Of course things are different now. Why? Because I’m finally involved and invested.

With that being said — and recognizing that this could all be in my head — I can not ignore the fact that something about this just feels different. The outrage seems a little hotter. The tears seem a little saltier. That sickness in our stomachs seems a little deeper. And, most importantly, that feeling of “I-don’t-know-what-do-to, but-we-f*cking-need-to-do-something”-ness seems a little stronger.

Hmm. A few days ago, I was talking to my mom about, I don’t know, work or bacon or some other typical bullshit daily minutiae, and right when I was about to get off the phone, she asked “Damon, what do you believe in?”

Even though I heard what she said, I asked her to repeat it because the question caught me so off guard. She did, and I asked if I could get back to her with an answer another time. She laughed, replied “Sure,” but added “You definitely need to think about that, though. You should be able to give me an answer.”

It’s been three days since she asked me that question. I still haven’t thought of a good answer. But, if the Trayvon Martin case has taught me anything, it’s that it’s time for me, time for us, to believe in something, and it feels like we’re finally ready and willing to do that.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)


Random PSA:  Liz is executive producing (yet another) web series for MadameNoire.com called “Ask A Black Man”–a talk show featuring Black men. The topics are all about love, sex, marriage and dating. You won’t want to miss this. New shows air every Wednesday on Madame Noire starting next Wednesday, March 28th. Stay tuned for the trailer. They’re rolling out the bios of each cast member. First up? Panama Jackson, who will appear in two episodes. Check out his bio and some sexxy (for a 3) photos here.

Filed Under:
Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Jay

    I find your optimism brave, and your writing skills to be completely on point for this one.

  • FIRST!!!!!!!

    oh mi gosh….for the love that is all stupidity and foolishness. I’ve always harbored a fear that I would never ever be the first to comment on VSB, and today I AM! I feel pumped!!!!!

    I did not read the article by the way…..going to in a few.

  • And, most importantly, that feeling of “I-don’t-know-what-do-to, but-we-f*cking-need-to-do-something”-ness seems a little stronger.

    I’m feeling this as well when it comes to Trayvon. People are even going so far as calling for a boycott of Skittles and Arizona. Complete nonsense but their hearts are in the right place I guess.

    If asked today, right now what I believe in I would have to answer honestly, “Not much”. Am I ready for that to change? I don’t know.

  • I like the simplicity and realness of this post. And I agree, there’s something about this that separates it from the other injustices we’ve heard about in the last 6 months or so. I think the race factor is making this one hotter, and it’s got people digging into history they’ve tucked away in their minds. History that we gloss over and don’t internalize until something like this happens. Will be interesting to see where this all goes.

  • PhDreezy

    Spot on!!!!!!!

    Something is coming. I’ve never before seen the raw emotion I’m seeing now. Black people have been pushed aside, marginalized, and murdered too long. I think the camel’s back is breaking, if not broken.

    I think we’re realizing that our position in society won’t change and that racism won’t end and that the promised land of little white boys and girls is a fantasy.

    And I stand with everyone standing. It’s past time.

  • Brandon

    I believe in the fact that it is not illegal to be black.
    I believe that some feel that it is illegal to be black in their neighborhood.
    I believe in justice.
    I believe there will be no justice for any of us if we do not figure out a way to reclaim the image of blackness and black people.
    I believe Zimmerman has not acted alone, in the sense that this is the culmination of the various media portrayals of our people that leads a black man in a hoodie to be a criminal before he can be a student, son, father, or a constructive member of society.

  • Cheech

    I really hope that this situation actually will make people become more aware of the suffering in our country before they go elsewhere. I also hope that it makes us listen to the news more and aware of our communities, local, national and global. This could be a turning point for us as a multicultural people.

  • anon87

    I almost got in an argument because a friend doesn’t understand why this particular incident is causing such a stir compared to so many other deaths of innocent young black people. I just assumed that most people get that something is DIFFERENT about this case and wasn’t completely able to articulate that feeling. Being able to articulate it will be helpful, but I will continue to assume that this friend is in the minority.

  • Val

    I am such a cynic that I’m not sure if I can really believe in anything anymore. As for the Trayvon situation; I think once that bastard Zimmerman is arrested, most of the unity and protests will cease. I mean 40 people were shot in Chicago last weekend, where’s the outrage. An unarmed Black guy named Ramarley Graham was murdered in NYC by police not too long ago, where’s the outrage? Black people suffer roughly twice the unemployment rate of the general population, the President ignores it. Where’s the outrage?

    My point; as much as I’m pissed by the murder of Trayvon and the subsequent cover-up by police in Sanford, Florida, I just don’t know what long term effect protests will have. When this sort of thing happens again, then what?

    I wish I wasn’t so cynical but I am.

  • naturalista88

    I wanna say something, but I’m sure it’ll just come off as very negative & full of pessimism so I’ll just come back in the morning. Hopefully I’ll have something positive to say @ that time.

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