Let’s Talk About Trayvon Martin Today

As the title suggests, I want to talk about Trayvon Martin today. I want to talk about his murder. I want to talk about the release of the 911 tapes. I want to talk about how I haven’t mustered the courage(?) to listen to them yet. I want to talk about how I begin to break down whenever I see his picture. I want to talk about the picture attached to this post, and how that baby-faced kid — a baby-faced kid who could have very easily been my little brother, my nephew, my cousin, my neighbor’s kid, my son, or, well, me — had no idea that he was going to be stalked, pursued, assaulted, and murdered before his 18th birthday just because he happened to be black at the wrong place in the wrong time. I want to talk about the fact that his murderer hasn’t been (and may never be) arrested. I want to talk about how, despite the fact that I know hate is wrong, I haven’t been able to think of a word strong enough to convey my hate for George Zimmerman. I want to talk about the effect this murder has had on his family, and how this unbelievably sad story has galvanized the nation.

When we’re done talking about Trayvon Martin, I want to talk about 19-year-old Anthony Scott and 6-year-old Aliyah Shell — the two youngest of the 10 people murdered in Chicago last weekend. Aliyah was killed in a drive-by shooting in broad daylight (3:30pm) as she sat on the porch with her mom. Anthony was called to a vehicle, and shot in the head as he approached it.

I’d also like to talk about 2-year-old Taizon Arin and 11-year-old Donovan McKee, two kids recently murdered by their mother’s boyfriends. Taizon died of blunt force trauma to the head. Donovan was ordered to get the sticks he was beat to death with, forced to clean up the bloody mess he made while his murderer took breaks from beating him to death, and eventually died after being beat over a nine hour span. 

If we have some time, I’d definitely like to say a few words about Kenneth Alford Jr, one of the dozen or so people I’ve personally known who’ve been murdered. It’s been almost six years since he was shot to death, and Kenneth — who was known as “Stubbo” by, well, everyone — was a friend of mine and a basketball rival I’d known since I was maybe 11 or 12.

It’s funny. I was a much better player than him — bigger, stronger, better shooter, better handle, just better — but he always got the better of me when we played against each other. As anyone who’s ever played ball will tell you, some guys just always have your number. Stubbo had mine, and it frustrated the hell out of me.

If he was still around he’d definitely be playing in one of the over-30 YMCA leagues I currently play in. He’s long gone, though — murdered because of mistaken identity — so I’m left to wonder if he’d still have my number.

Actually, I misspoke a couple paragraphs ago. When counting the dozen or so people I’ve known who have been murdered, I didn’t count former students — kids who sat in my classroom when I was an English teacher. If you add them to the list, that “dozen” number doubles.

I feel awful saying this, but I don’t remember each of their names. But, I do remember that I said a prayer for Chandler Thompson, Richiena Porter, Isaiah Talbott, and Stephen Tibbs every night for maybe three years straight.

It’s been a while since I’ve done that though, so maybe we can talk about them for (at least) a couple minutes today, for no other reasons then it’ll make me feel better about neglecting to pray for them and forgetting the names of the rest of their gunned down classmates.

Lastly, while I may be tempted to spark this discussion, we don’t have to talk about my 16-year-old and 19-year-old nieces. They were both shot at a Sweet 16 house party a few months ago, but they were both lucky enough to only suffer non-fatal wounds.

I don’t know where I’m going with any of this. I don’t know why I stopped praying for Chandler, Richiena, Isaiah, and Stephen. I don’t know what to do with all of this emotion, all of this feeling the murder of Trayvon Martin has left me with. I don’t know what do to. I do know, though, that any glance at the “Local News” section of any one of the 100(?) or so major American newspapers will sadly remind us that Trayvon Martin’s murder isn’t the only one we need to talk about today.

 —Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

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.

  • BOOM!

  • MsPackyetti

    Thank you.

    Hard reminder, but thank you.

  • When I heard the whole story about Trayvon, plus the 911 call, I cried like I had lost my own son. A child minding his own business – being a good kid and buying candy for his brother – was chased down like a dog and executed. But here’s the new revelation – his body was found without his cell phone, even though he left with one. But his murderer walks free (and, even if he gets the death penalty, Trayvon is gone.)

    All these babies that are gone for no reason – like Aiyana Jones so there could be more ‘excitement’ on The First 48 – honest to God, it’s why I don’t want to have a child. I can’t bury my baby.

  • PhDreezy

    There’s a war going on and we’re losing.

  • Bus

    Wow… just wow.

  • Loving Me

    All of these stories hurt my heart. I am a mother and I can not imagine the grief that these parents are going through and I pray to God that I never have to. I can’t for the life of me understand how anyone can live with themselves after killing a child. How anyone can shoot a gun anywhere in the vicinity of a child. How any person, grown or otherwise, can sit there and beat a child to death. How messed up do you have to be to make that okay in your mind? What kind of monster do you have to be to get to that point. I’m scared to bring anyone I date around my children simply because of stories like the 2 you mentioned and the many stories on the news each day. I pray over my children every morning, every night, and every time they leave me and I thank God every time they return safely. I can not imagine waking up and them not being here and it being some idiot with a gun, some maniac with an anger problem, some sorry son of a btch who is so twisted in the head, so hateful, so completely demonized that they could take a child away from their mother. If nothing comes out of this tragedy at the very least it has made parents across the country love their children that much more because we’ve all realized that he could have easily been one of ours and we’re all thanking God for that while praying and grieving the loss of this young man and countless other’s

  • Hmmm, so is the point of this post to highlight the fact that blacks commit violence against each other and it doesn’t make headlines? So in hate crimes against Jews, they have to feel obligated to talk about Jew-on-Jew crime? Why are we the only people who feel compelled to undermine racism with the “this is how much we do it to ourselves!” trope?

    I had one of my closest friends die from gun violence. When I see Treyvon, I see my friend, and it breaks my heart. My friend’s murderer was never brought to justice. All we had were questions and an astronomical sense of loss, that 6 years later, I still cry about. I had never felt so much emotional pain in.my.life.

    With that, the violence against black men simply because they are black is too real and enormously frightening. Will we address crime in our communities? We will and we have. Does that mean we should ignore the psychotic, lynch mob mentality of those with a racist fear of black men with the means to get away with it? Absolutely not.

  • xLadyTx

    My heart goes out to the families of the deceased children. It’s all heartbreaking to hear about. U have to truly be a sick individual to harm a child that way.

  • Elle

    I tried to think of something insightful to post, but the words would not come to me. My heart hurts with each of these stories, and I don’t even know how to begin thinking about a solution.

    “The kids don’t stand a chance…”

  • Captain Awesome

    Guess what, the people reading this post family members, kids they played ball with, and their former students are also in the ground. If Trayvon Martin forces your intended audience to listen we should all be fine with it. Why measure sorrow to make a point?

More Like This