A week ago, I saw a flier in my Harlem barbershop about a rally to mark the two-year anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death at the hands of vigilante and village idiot, George Zimmerman. I’d love to sit here and say that I immediately studied it with plans to head downtown in memoriam today. Instead, I flinched a bit and turned away. Not because I didn’t care; I just felt exhausted by the thought of revisiting Trayvon’s death in that way. Because it would force me to think about all of the deaths that have happened since then.
It’s been two years since Trayvon’s death and it pains me to continue writing about Black youth being slaughtered by angry, gun-toting White men. Worse, it both angers and frightens me that so many of our current laws protect these killers and their lack of humanity for Black children.
Jordan Davis is dead, and his killer, Michael Dunn, was found guilty on every crime but the most heinous–the one that resulted in an actual loss of life.
So, I’m not exactly confident in the jury that will determine the fate of Theodore Wafer in his trial for the murder of 19-year-old Renisha McBride. Renisha only sought aid and in return was shot in the face with a shotgun by Wafer. On the “monster that killed my daughter,” Walter Simmons said, “I hope he spends the rest of his life in jail.”
My mounting cynicism notwithstanding, here’s hoping Renisha gets the justice Trayvon and Jordan have yet to.
The same goes for Jonathan Ferrell, who was shot and killed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall Kerrick. Like Renisha, all Jonathan wanted was help in the wake of a car crash. Ferrell ran to Kerrick for help, but ended up being shot him 12 times — where 10 of those bullets pierced his body. Yet, a partial grand jury in North Carolina decided not to indict Kerrick. It took a second grand jury to indict him and even that’s for only on a voluntary manslaughter charge.
There’s also Rekia Boyd, who was killed Chicago Police Officer Dante Servin. The 45-year-old has since been charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless discharge of a firearm and reckless conduct in the March 2012 shooting death of the 22-year-old. And last weekend 15-year-old Adrian Broadway was laid to rest. She was killed by 48-year-old Willie Nobel following her driving off with friends who did a retaliatory prank directed at Noble’s teenage son.
As Jamilah Lemieux writes at EBONY.com: “America eats its young and Black children live under a specific threat level, one that finds that the fear of them gives people the right to respond to that fear with violence.”
Not only the right, but the legal protection to do so.
Not long after the Zimmerman verdict had been reached, I was in Orlando for a panel. My driver must’ve pegged me as a “different” kind of Black because he decided to point out to the direction Sanford, Florida was in and proceeded to offer unsolicited musings on Zimmerman. He spoke of Zimmerman in a defensive way, acting as if I was aloof to the ways race works in this country. Naturally, he was an older White man. I wanted to say, “May you get a flat tire the second you drop me off.” And lots of lots of curse words.
I ended up respectfully highlighting how damn dumb he sounded and closed with, “Let’s end this conversation now.” He didn’t get a tip. Duh.
Point is, I’m tired of having to explain Black humanity to people who ought to know better. We are worthy of living by virtue of simply breathing. Why is this such a hard concept for many to grasp? I’m disgusted by that for the foreseeable future, Stand Your Ground Laws will continue to give the Michael Dunns, George Zimmermans, Randall Kerricks, Theodore Wafers, and Willie Nobels of the world reason to think that their fear of Black people is justified, and the guns they use to combat that with, perfectly legal. I hate, hate, hate the reality that two years after the death of Trayvon Martin, it’s still open season on Black folks.
I’m over it. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I just want it to be better. But it isn’t, so as much as I want to look away from fliers that remind me of reality, I can only feign aloofness for a second. No matter how tired we all get of this kind story, silence won’t stop it.