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”)

  • http://www.shellysaysso.com ShellySaysSo

    BOOM!

    • GypsyCurl

      I listened to some of the 911 calls. It is truly disgusting and dispicable that the Sanford police refuse to arrest this man. Murder is murder. Let a judge decide if it was self defense. The police are acting as if they are the judges.

      • Deeds

        Exactly

        • IET

          Police acting like judges is par for the course.

      • http://genxaestheticism.com eve

        “Let a judge decide if it was self defense.”

        HELLO.

        I thought we had a judicial system.

        • http://www.blogger.com/home Bri

          Boom………indeed

      • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com Asiyah

        “The police are acting as if they are the judges.”

        Not surprised. I’m in NYC and they’re spying on my community. Say what you will but that’s unconstitutional. Not to mention their racist stop and frisk program. They’ve always had a history of playing judge and jury, especially with minorities. I have no faith in law enforcement.

        • A Woman’s Eyes

          A police state begins by spying on the citizens whose taxes put them into office, and by allowing vigilant justice to go unchecked.

          • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com Asiyah

            Word.

  • MsPackyetti

    Thank you.

    Hard reminder, but thank you.

  • http://www.iamyourpeople.com I Am Your People

    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

      The last line.

    • http://radiovalencia.fm/podcasts/?show=ms%20margarita Margarita

      I’ve been working as a therapist in a county hospital, in a program specializing in trauma due to community violence, abuse/neglect, domestic violence, and often all of the above. I’ve been witness to the pain of many parents who’ve lost their children and youth, and the grief and loss of the siblings left behind. It never gets easier. It’s heartbreaking each time. Like you, I very much worry about having a brown child in this country.

      • http://genxaestheticism.com eve

        Precisely.

        There are parents … but also SIBLINGS, cousins, friends who are still KIDS … all these people having to deal with this kind of grief left in the wake.

        How many people — especially kids — TRULY know how to deal with this kind of grief?

        I can’t even imagine what I would have done as a kid had this happened to my brother. And we didn’t even get along then! LOL. Yet the reality is, as much as my Black father — like most of you guys’ Black fathers — had to train my kid brother on how to deal with the cops, this could have happened to him as well.

        This world is soooo broken.

        • JessicaL

          My younger cousin was shot in the head the summer before he was supposed to go to college. His “friends” dumped him out at the ER entrance of the hospital. Coincidental, his mother was being hospitalized in that dame facility because of her many health problems. He was dead before he made it to the hospital. That had to take his heavily medicated mother off some of the medications so she could is him.

          • A Woman’s Eyes

            :(

          • JessicaL

            I meant to say so she could id him.

          • http://pervertedalchemist.blogspot.com/ Perverted Alchemist

            What in the hell???

    • CurlyTop

      Honestly couldn’t make it through the 911 calls. My heart sank and by the third one hearing him cry out in the background had me in tears. This makes me fear for all the black men in my life I know and love that someone might see as a “suspicious” person. It makes me reflect on my cousin who was murdered before his 23rd birthday. And my mind can’t stop thinking about all the kids I sat in school with who did’t live to see 18, 19, or 20.

      I’m gonna co-sign that last sentence. The fear of one day burying my child is birth control enough. Parents are brave.

      • Thai

        “And my mind can’t stop thinking about all the kids I sat in school with who did’t live to see 18, 19, or 20″

        And now…everytime I see a black child female/male walking alone my heart literally sinks and I have to say a silent prayer asking God/the Universe to guarantee the safe journey home to that child’s family.

        • Alikeh

          “And now…everytime I see a black child female/male walking alone my heart literally sinks and I have to say a silent prayer asking God/the Universe to guarantee the safe journey home to that child’s family.”

          every.single.time. I feel helpless. This child was in a gated community, his father probably didnt even think twice that something like this could happen. You arent safe anywhere anymore. Not school, not church, not even your own bed. Childen getting shot while sleeping. Its madness. I dont even have enough words to articlulate how i feel. Helpless.Whats worse is that he was in the morg for about 24 hours as John Doe because no one believed that he actually belonged there. That poor father worried about where his child is, meanwhile no one had the decency to figure out who that child belonged to.

    • A Woman’s Eyes

      ” But here’s the new revelation – his body was found without his cell phone, even though he left with one.”

      I truly hope they find that cellphone and its not tampered with to hide evidence.

      • http://twitter.com/#!/NewYork2VA NY2VA

        They found the phone. He had been talking to his girlfriend, telling her about the guy who was watching him. She told him to run, but he didn’t want to. he said he would just walk fast. He told her he had lost the guy but was confronted by him a few moments later. Here is the link to the story.

        http://abcnews.go.com/US/trayvon-martin-death-friend-phone-teen-death-recounts/story?id=15959017#.T2iPesXOW8B

        • Lyshebaaaa

          WOW! And of course…his cell phone is “missing”. You’d think that Zimmerman or the police dept. would know that the call log for his phone number could/would be obtained even if his physical phone were disappeared. The ineptitude of the police department will be the thing that reveals the corruption of the sanford police department.

          • GypsyCurl

            I wish the boy would have called the police instead of his friend. This statement is in no way blaming the boy. I am just curious as to how the police would justify not arresting Zimmerman if the boy had been talking to a 911 dispatcher.

            • spottieottiedarlin

              Gypsy, I hadn’t thought about that but you’re right. Maybe he was already on the phone with her though.

            • A Woman’s Eyes

              Here is the whopper — NEIGHBORS called 911 there were multiple calls to 911 on Trayvon’s behalf by people in the neighborhood who witnessed this sh*t going down.

    • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com Asiyah

      “honest to God, it’s why I don’t want to have a child. I can’t bury my baby.”

      I’ve been thinking the same thing. Though death is part of the cycle I don’t know if I can handle that. Last December I went to a religious sermon and they were talking about a baby named Ali Akbar, died at 6 months old when an arrow hit his head. I cried hysterically. I’m trying hard not to cry right now in my office just thinking about the deaths of these children. I can’t help but think, “what if that were my child?”

      • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com Asiyah

        *not in the head, in the chest

      • A Woman’s Eyes

        This is why when you become a parent, you realize that you would kill to protect your child from anyone who tried to harm them. I think that because of the empathy that society has for children, especially from parents, that Zimmerman would be in danger the moment he sets foot inside of the prison system.

  • PhDreezy

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

    • AfroPetite

      unfortunately……..

  • 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

    • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

      I think the story about the child getting beaten was just too much for me this morning.

      • MJoy

        cosign. gave me the worst visual

      • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com Asiyah

        “I think the story about the child getting beaten was just too much for me this morning.”

        Same here. Tears of rage. Despicable man. Despicable mother.

  • http://dodreamaisha.wordpress.com dodreamaisha

    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.

    • Lyshebaaaa

      +1,000,000,000

    • Todd

      Understood, but let’s keep it 100. Who is a young Black male more likely to come across? Some dude whose pride and self-esteem is so weak that the only proper response to being played is to lace a cap in his a$$? Or a White guy so racist that he makes a point of buying a house in a town with as few nigras as possible? Not saying the other dude doesn’t exist. But this isn’t 100 years ago with night riders rolling into the hood on horses. While the White guy is definitely a threat, a teenager is going to come across like 15 or 20 of the first dude before he runs into the second kind visiting some family.

      • http://pervertedalchemist.blogspot.com/ Perverted Alchemist

        And that’s the sad reality of it all…

    • GypsyCurl

      This post is not about Black on Black crime or white on Black crime. Champ did not write anything like that. The point of the post is senseless murders of innocent children, both intentional and as bystanders.

      • http://lizburr.com Liz

        thank you.

        sometimes I read a comment and wonder DID U ACTUALLY READ THE POST?

        • Trina

          Yes, that’s true. Just don’t ignore the fact that this post brings up that very point though.

        • MissB!

          I was thinking the same thing, still am… where did it say anything about Black on Black crime? or violence against Black Men specifically???? (*_*)

        • http://dodreamaisha.wordpress.com dodreamaisha

          I read it, and that’s why my first statement was a question. I was trying to understand Champ’s intent.

          The bottom line is that this case is unique. The death of our children is all important, but there are myriad reasons why those cases have not made national headlines and this has. I appreciate Champ for bringing those to light but those cases are clearly distinct from this one despite the overarching theme of concern of the loss of young black lives.

          And although he didn’t specifically mention black-on-black crime, champ’s post also seemed to have an undercurrent of “we do it to ourselves, why are we only getting worked up when a non-black person does it?” Perhaps because we do that so often as a people, and I have seen that in relation to this case, that it’s something I projected and it just didn’t sit right with me.

          Either way, this is a tragedy and I’m glad the DOJ is stepping in.

          • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

            “I read it, and that’s why my first statement was a question. I was trying to understand Champ’s intent.”

            my intent was to write about what was in my head, which is Trayvon Martin and all the other sad news stories I’ve recently read about. the entry was more of a stream of consciousness than a planned out piece with an agenda.

            I guess a point did emerge in that stream of consciousness, though. All of this type of news hits me just as hard, and maybe I’m just tired of being hit that way.

            • Lyshebaaaa

              I reacted the way dodreamaisha did at first, but reading it again I do see this as a stream of consciousness piece, and I thank you you for writing it . I think I’m just used to thinking of you as always having a strong opinion and objective when you set out to write!

              • Justmetheguy

                Yeah, I get where Dodreamaisha was coming from. I was wondering what his intent was, but I can definitely see this being just a stream of consciousness post. All those murders are horrendous, but this one definitely stands out.

                ” I reacted the way dodreamaisha did at first, but reading it again I do see this as a stream of consciousness piece, and I thank you you for writing it . I think I’m just used to thinking of you as always having a strong opinion and objective when you set out to write!”

                Exactly

        • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com Asiyah

          “I read a comment and wonder DID U ACTUALLY READ THE POST?”

          I was thinking the same thing, but didn’t want to throw shade. Felt that person was just venting, I guess…

    • CNotes

      Your first paragraph is a distraction from the point of Champ’s post. smh

  • 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?

    • http://dodreamaisha.wordpress.com dodreamaisha

      Agreed. I thought I was the only person who felt this way.

      Champ didn’t mention any of these stories ’til Trayvon’s case. We can be aware of it ALL and still acknowledge the shitty racism behind Trayvon’s death.

    • http://dodreamaisha.wordpress.com dodreamaisha

      Agreed. I thought I was the only person who felt this way.

      Champ didn’t mention any of these stories ’til Trayvon’s case. We can be aware of it ALL and still acknowledge the $hitty racism behind Trayvon’s death

      • BrooklynBandit

        Fully agree with this. Measuring sorrow is a poor excuse for a response to this. This comes off as insensitive rather than a call to action.

        • MJoy

          Champ is a human being and was brave and open enough to share his very real feelings with us.

          We don’t all dwell on various troubling issues each day. Sometimes, unfortunately, it takes a horrific act to remind us of others.

          We are grown, educated people. We don’t need Champ to call us to action. We can do that ourselves.

          I just appreciate the raw simplicity of the post. Let the man express what he’s feeling. That in itself should feel like a call to action.

          • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com Asiyah

            “I just appreciate the raw simplicity of the post.”

            Exactly. Anything more would have seemed contrived and insincere.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “Why measure sorrow to make a point?”

      not “measuring sorrow.” people have their own way of processing and thinking about things like this. today was me sharing 800 words worth of how i process and think.