On Monday morning, I forced myself to listen to Talk of the Nation where they discussed the story of Trayvon Martin and interviewed Jonathan Capehart and Leonard Pitts. I say forced, because it is one thing to read and read and read about a story and let the anger and frustration simmer. It is another thing to listen to grown men articulate the issue of racial profiling and describe the lessons they learned as children and the lessons that they must teach their own children. I cry plenty when I listen to the news on the radio (it's one of the only times I do), but listening to all this... I had to crack the window of the van because I was nearly overcome with a nauseous sort of heartache. I thought I was going to throw up.
That child was somebodies baby. That child might well be my baby one day. And as horrible as this thought is, it was no revelation to me, nor is it to most parents of black boys (and I'm only a relative newcomer here). The burden of information that we must pass on to our boys is going to do more than take their innocence. It is going to completely change the way they see their fellow man. Trayvon was not in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had every right to be exactly where he was doing what he was doing. He was minding his business and trying to get home when he was followed, attacked and killed because he looked suspicious. And he looked suspicious because he was a young black man wearing a hoodie.
When you look at my beautiful, brown skinned boys, and remark on their long eyelashes or gorgeous smiles-- look at them as future black men. Look at them as hoodie wearing teenage boys. Think about Trayvon and young, black boys like him who find themselves in positions where their innocence rather than their guilt has to be proved.
Please, please think of them as holding all the promise and hope that you hold for your own children, and not, as Mr. Pitts conjectured "he looked at this boy, and he did not see a boy.... coming home from 7-Eleven. He saw a threat. He saw, I think, the sum of all his fears."