By Frederick Sparks
It’s difficult to put into words how disturbed, angry and depressed I have been by the Trayvon Martin story, in particular the chilling 911 recording of the young man’s cries for help which certainly cast doubts on any claims of justified self-defense. Yet it appears for the moment that, as in the brutal murder of Emmitt Till, justice for the victim is not forthcoming.
Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post does a great job of putting the Martin murder in a larger context of Black male experience..the ongoing set of survival skills that those of us with advanced degrees and without rap sheets also exercise intuitively when confronted with the very real possibility of violence and death based on our perceived threatening nature. Capehart recounts the rules learned at his mother’s knee:
“Don’t run in public.” Lest someone think you’re suspicious.
“Don’t run while carrying anything in your hands.” Lest someone think you stole something.
“Don’t talk back to the police.” Lest you give them a reason to take you to jail or worse.
Sadly, my own nephew, a late 80s baby born the year I started college and now a college graduate and MBA student, has had recent run ins with police in Dallas, TX. Luckily the outcome has not been nearly as tragic as the Martin case, but the fear of such a result is a constant borne by black men and their loved ones.