The sweet, smiling face you see to your left is that of my nephew, Trayvon (his name is spelled differently, but I chose to spell it the same as Trayvon Martin for this piece). MY Trayvon is probably twice the height and weight he was in that picture by now. He’s a tall, handsome young man. He’ll always be that mischievous little joker in the picture to me, though. MY Trayvon is a typical teenager – trying to appear aloof, but will smile like there’s no tomorrow at family gatherings when reminded of the dimpled cutie in the picture and the silly things he used to say and do. He’s no saint, by any means (but who was as a teenager?). MY Trayvon has had his share of challenges with high school and staying on task, his choices in friends raising my brother’s eyebrow a time or two, I’m sure. He’s a teenager. He’s a Black male teenager in America and I worry for him.
I worry for him because he’s growing into a man in a country that doesn’t appear to value or respect not only his right to be here, but his right to LIFE itself. And look, I don’t want to get into a discussion of the GZ trial and whether or not the verdict was just, that’s not what this is about. This is an aunt expressing her worry and concern for her nephew and the millions of boys/young men across this country who look like him. The issue of the seeming lack of racial equality in America bucks against the very core of my spiritual beliefs and I feel conflicted.
I believe 100% that the Universe is a kind, loving, abundant and beautiful energy and that we all – ALL come from it. How do I balance that belief with my experiences as a Black woman in America? How do I believe that ‘all is well’ while experiencing the contrary? How do I believe that ‘I am worthy’ while imagery, attitudes and behaviors of my fellow humans suggest otherwise? How do I believe in the unfailing goodness of God while experiencing the lack of compassion and love from other human beings? How do I continue to believe ‘We ARE One’ while bombarded with (again) imagery, attitudes and behaviors that support and encourage separation? See. Conflicted.
As I sit here, I’ve typed and erased this paragraph several times, trying to find the words. You know, I’m NOT conflicted. I choose to continue to believe in the beauty of God, even while confronted with the ugliness of man. I want to believe that Trayvon Martin’s short life will open up channels of discussion- discussions on race, gun control, SYG laws, profiling. Each time one of these tragedies occurs, it presents an opportunity to have an honest, balls-to-the-wall national conversation about the cancer that is racism in America.
I don’t know what conversations, if any, my brother has had with MY Trayvon about Trayvon Martin’s death, the trial or how to minimize the chances of him ending up in a similar situation. I don’t know. But, here’s what Aunt Ejay says: ‘Tre, you are a valuable human being. You deserve to be treated fairly, even if it doesn’t always happen. You are not a criminal unless you commit a crime. Everyone won’t judge you based solely on how you look, but some will. Don’t let other people’s prejudices determine your destiny. The Creator of the entire Universe loves you unconditionally and that alone makes you worthy of every good thing life has to offer.’