Trayvon Martin’s Death Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

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Trayvon Martin News that the Obama Administration is going to step in to investigate the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was music to the ears of millions of concerned citizens around the world.  Martin, who was killed under peculiar circumstances by a self-appointed night watchman (George Zimmerman), was unarmed at the time of his death. There is also a tremendous amount of evidence that police didn’t give proper attention to all of the witnesses and that Zimmerman was not in fear of his life, as he initially claimed.

RELATED: Breaking: Feds Open Investigation Into Trayvon Martin Case

Getting involved in the Martin case is a good move for President Obama, especially during an election year.  At a time when the administration is trying to catch up and apologize for paying very little attention to the Black community, the Martin case gives the administration an opportunity to gain some much-needed Black political points.  I quietly wonder if we can credit Michelle Obama for pinching the man next to her in bed and telling him that we need to help Trayvon’s family (in spite of the fact that he is not a Harvard Professor, hint hint).

This move also represents the right thing to do.  It would be difficult for any logical human being to analyze the circumstances of the Trayvon Martin case and conclude that the man who (according to 911 tapes) chose to chase the “suspicious-looking” Black male was somehow fighting to protect himself.  Zimmerman was not a police officer, Martin was not armed, and Zimmerman was the only one looking for trouble.

As we fight for justice for Trayvon, we must all take a personal moment of silent reflection to consider all of the other Trayvons who’ve been killed without all of the media attention.  What about the kid who went through the same experience but had a criminal record?   What about the kid who gets shot in a housing project and doesn’t have a father who lives in a gated community?   The fact is that the Trayvon Martin case is, quite honestly, just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the avalanche of injustice that has been served to millions of Black people for centuries.  Trayvon’s untimely death reminds us that the injustice affects everyone and that it continues until this day.

The involvement of the Obama Administration in the sad and peculiar case of Trayvon Martin should be a starting point for additional steps in creating a more honest and forthright society.  The Sanford Police Department’s behavior is a mere symptom of a bigger social virus and not the root of the matter.

If you find one roach in the house, you don’t just kill the bug – instead, you must dig deeper and find your way to the nest.

In other words, one can only hope that the outrage over the death of Trayvon Martin escalates into a more prolonged effort to evaluate the criminal justice system from top to bottom, including police brutality, racial profiling, unfair sentencing, and mass incarceration.

Rest in peace, Trayvon, I shed several tears for you even as I write this sentence.  Also, I’d like to wish peace to the thousands of Trayvon Martins whose cases didn’t make the six o’clock news.  Like the unnamed slaves who were thrown to the bottom of the ocean, there are nameless, faceless men and women who met similar trouble in the middle of the night and no one ever told their story.  Trayvon’s death is a sign that there is a nest of injustice that must be eradicated at the core.

We cannot stop until we are finished.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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