Friday, March 23, 2012

Trayvon: I can't keep it to myself

I didn’t want to write about Trayvon. I waited and waited some more before throwing words on this page. I waited for common sense to take hold to save me from having to bring further attention to the pain that has kept me locked in dismay. Put another way, I’m sick and tired of writing about the pain of black men.

I wanted to believe the time has come for folks like me to back away from stories like this one. I wanted to accept times have changed and I’m free to explore other stories. I wanted to talk about what’s happening in the city, the cool places to hang out and tell the untold stories of people in my own back yard. I wanted to release all those years of pain roused by dealing with walking the streets with a macho identity layered with loads of blackness.

I didn’t want to write about pain anymore. It all left me feeling like one seduced into a victim mentality. I didn’t want to blame white folks anymore. My desire was to evoke a message of hope for those confronted with mounds of hostility connected to their labels.

“You don’t sound angry anymore,” my white friends are quick to point out after reading my recent blogs and columns. After 15 years of writing columns that coerced me to consider how my words would impact others, I wanted a safe place.

I wanted to be revered for the power of my words more than the assumptions of my politics. I didn’t want the brand of being the mad black guy. I didn’t want to hear opinions that minimized me to the hue I wear and the pain I carry. I wanted the respect that others carry with ease. Their words aren't appraised from the context of their being. Oh, how badly I desire to be accepted for my craft and not to be minimized because of how my blackness gets in the way!

But, Trayvon forces me to come out from the layers of compost that forced me into isolation. I can’t keep it to myself. It hurts too deep not to write about. It’s too close to home not to allow my tears to grab hold of this page. I have to yell from that place shaking because this shit won’t go away. I can’t keep it to myself.

He was killed for no reason! Why do I care? Because I am Trayvon. My son is Travon. My nephew and girlfriend’s son is Trayvon. Trayvon attends the church I lead. He shows up in my neighborhood to play basketball whenever the sun comes out. I see him when I drop the kids off at school. I see Trayvon everywhere I look. His face is a reminder of how things have not changed due to the fear of those who blame him for all that irks our nation.

His death reminds me of how I’ve been treated. I think of my own son’s pain as a black man begging to be seen for more than how he is feared. We both have been stopped for driving while being black, walking while being black, shopping while being black and yelled at for being black. We both have been rejected because our strength is too much for others to contend. We both have cried because our authentic freedom is conditioned by how others accept us beyond how we look.

We are Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Men. We are Richard Wright’s “Bigger Thomas” walking in fear of what we can’t control. Was James Baldwin right when he wrote, “who does not have his private Bigger Thomas in his skull.” Has America grown beyond the evil that kept black men home at night? Should fear keep us home when the call goes out to buy a bag of Skittles?

How many more have to die like Troy Davis despite the lack of evidence? How many more have to die like Craig Davis down in Mississippi. Does it take a gang of teenagers in a truck to open our eyes? How many more need to be killed due to a mistaken identity? What does it take for people to consider how black men are viewed in a land led by a black man?

I’m tired of writing about my pain as a black man. I did my best to keep it to myself.

Now I have to cry some more. Does anyone care?


  1. I can't tell you how many times and how long I've cried. With my 2 little boys, I couldn't ignore it either. One could only hope that this tragedy will lead people to look inward about race. One can hope.

    1. Thank you Carl,

      I know that this was so difficult for you to write. Thank you for articulating what so many of our hearts feel. My heart is bleeding for all or our named and unnamed victims of senseless violence, especially Trayvon...for he is our son.


      May we find the strength to fight this with the love and power of God.

  2. Yes, Carl, to answer your question, I think a lot of people care. And most of us can see that the threat that the shooter says he felt came from his own fevered mind, from his racism, and not from a 17 year old kid in a hoodie. One can only imagine the fear that Trayvon felt being followed and *actually* threatened by the shooter.

    Racism is becoming official and not just in the consequences of the Florida "stand your ground" law, but in the general support for profiling. I think people underestimate how unfair, frightening, and ultimately enraging, it is to be profiled, stopped, searched, and roughed up because of the racialized perceptions of the police.

  3. I did not want to write about this either. This is OUR child and things are happening every minute all around us to our black men, especially our children.

    It was interesting to me that the first report was about a white man, second report was a white spanish-speaking man, and the third report was about a Hispanic man. This just adds to the reality that America has not and can not deal with race and ethnicity. It is all sad!!

  4. Yes I care. I am white and I care. I love people of all color. I have had best friends who are black and white and hispanic but I consider them of the human race. In order for this to stop we have to stop putting down the dividing lines of race. Every form, application, registry always ask the question "what race are you?" Most people in this country are not of one single race, America truly is a melting pot. We are not white, black, brown, yellow we are people and our diversity should be seen as a blessing. I am not going to take sides on whether the shooting of this young man was right or wrong, I wasn't there. Let the police do an investigation to see whether a crime has been committed according to Florida law. Why can't people see that when the race card is pulled it skews everything out of place. We can no longer be accepted or rejected for our character or lack of character we are judged only by our skin, what's on the outside. "Man looks on the outward appearance, but God sees the heart" we should be more like God and look for what's inside a person. It shows in the way they treat others and in the way the treat themselves. I have seen just as much racism from blacks toward other blacks as I have from whites to blacks. "Oh hunny she's not black, she's white with purple polka dots" If a black man doesn't act a certain way he is labeled as a white man by the black community for example Clarence Thomas, Herman Cain etc. If a black man calls a black man the N word that's okay. Why? If that word is demeaning why do you refer to anyone in that manner? I have been stopped by the police while walking,driving etc. but I never made the assumption that it was because of the color of my skin. The Bible says "as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" We need to teach children of all color to see themselves and children of God and the race issue wouldn't be an issue.

  5. Let's consider all the facts before we go off the deep end of assumptions from all parties.

    Now that we know that Trayvon was not the young innocent he claimed to be; now that we know Trayvon was suspended from school for marijuana; and especially now that we know there were numerous witnesses to the altercation who said it was Trayvon who was the agressor, surely we can stop our knee-jerk reactions.

    The police corroborated the neighborhood watch guy's account of what happened.

    As for Geraldo, he's always been an inlammatory writer and poor reporter. Remember, he used to be a flaming liberal until he couldn't get a job. I don't see Rivera's opinion representing much of America, black or white.