Dear Trayvon [by DL Hughley] [Huffington Post]
I cannot help but wonder how people would have remembered me had my life been cut short at 17. I feel a profound sense of loss when I think of you ,Trayvon. Not only as a black man but as a father and a human being. I’m sad that the world will never know what you would have become. Your parents will never get to experience the joy of watching you graduate from high school or college. They will never get to see you come into your own as a man. Perhaps you would have grown into a “thug” or a “criminal.” I am not naïve enough to be unaware of the myriad of possibilities. But you had every right to grow up and make those decisions for yourself and that right was taken away from you the same night your life was.
I once heard a man say “I am the man now the little boy I was always wanted to be.” I am sorry that you will never get to say the same thing. My sincerest wish is that if I am lucky and I live the rest of my life in a way that warrants God’s grace, I might run into you at some point and tell you how wonderful it is to finally meet you. For now all I or anyone else touched by this tragedy can do is to live for you. To make sure that your name does not fade into the night.
P.S. This letter to you was written in part by the daughter I would have never had if my life had been taken from me at 17.
Disrupting the Discourse and Discussing the Undiscussable [Huffington Post]
Yesterday as I was walking through Harvard Square, I saw a group of students demonstrating for justice for Trayvon Martin. Tourists, students and locals watched and listened as students from Harvard and Tufts stood in front of the crowds, which could be heard from several blocks away. The demonstration seemed more like a cry of pain than a conversation. Seeing this made me think more about this tragedy, but it didn’t help me figure out what I was supposed to do with my own feelings of anger about what happened to Trayvon.
I’m spending this year at Harvard Graduate School of Education where, with 36 other ambitious educators, I am in training to become a school leader. In our time together, I’ve struggled with how to discuss issues of race and class in our own cohort. As someone who is dedicated to building a school community that will prevent more tragedies like Trayvon’s, I have found my frustrations discouraging. If I am unsure of how to broach issues of race and class with my peers in the safety of my grad school classrooms, how will I be able to lead these conversations in a school?
Most of my peers have taught or worked in schools that serve primarily low-income students of color. We are (at least superficially) aware of the disadvantages that children of color face in the United States, probably more so than the average American.
But in our cohort of 37, we only have three African American men and four African American women. After graduation, most of us will be serving communities that are at least 50 percent black and Latino. As a white Jewish woman from New York, I can never really know what it is like to be black or Latino. I’m struggling to search for answers while simultaneously being careful not to turn to the few colored faces in the room to ask them to speak for an entire race (or several races).
On the Age and Innocence of Trayvon Martin [Ta-Nehisi Coates for the Atlantic]
The one above is one you might select to reflect your message that Martin was, indeed, a child. This message is actually true. I guess you could accuse Martin’s parents of sinisterly selecting a photo which reflects well on their son. But what you can’t really accuse them of is intentionally trying to deceive you by lowering the kids age. There’s very little difference–if any–between that picture above and the one we’ve seen on protest signs everywhere. There are other pictures which do look much different–a fact which simply proves that Martin, like many homo sapiens, appears different when subjected to the instruments and angles of photography.
It’s worth pointing that I have yet to see a single citation, matching age and photos, to back up the claim that we are all captives to dastardly manipulative plot. Even so, all it would prove is that we’ve seen a variety of photos of Trayvon Martin.
In this business, it is always best to speak to the purveyors of such arguments, in their native tongue. To wit:
I’m sorry that Trayvon Martin’s actual appearance obstructs your inalienable right to scandalize children. That you must are forced into cartwheels, and rendered ridiculous, all in the laudable quest to justify bias is the true tragedy, one which pales when compared to an actual death. If I have in any way, contributed to your travails, I hope that some day you will be wise enough, or simply human enough, to forgive.