The Tragedy of Trayvon MartinPosted in Articles, Social Justice
Another young black youth has been gunned down in the streets of America. In a society that glorifies and is addicted to violence, the travesties of such killings tragically remind us that we still have a long way to go in finally eliminating the fear, hatred and social suspicions that drive us to demean, devalue and destroy one another.
The fear and loathing that incite such acts of violence existed long before slavery, became a shameful practice of that peculiar institution, extends to our present times and is so deeply ingrained in the social and psychological DNA of some Americans that it may take years if ever to eliminate.
This is indeed a sad time in our nation and whatever events led to the demise of Trayvon Martin, we know that his story of death by violence happens all too often in our land.
We have heard it on the nightly news of young black youths killing each other in genocidal splurges of anger, revenge and retribution. We have seen it in the history of racial attacks of whites against blacks through lynching and other destructive and incendiary acts of mob violence. Rodney King and Reginald Denny come to mind, public victims of racially motivated violence. We have too often witnessed it as the only celebrated tool for conflict resolution between adversaries in the media and in American popular culture and have poignantly observed ad nauseum violence against women, gay, lesbian and transgender people.
Moreover, the proliferation of violence in recent political discourse keeps rising to new heights with its inflammatory “hate speech”especially against President Obama and in the caricatures of Obama wearing an Adolf Hitler mustache. It exists in the war against the middle class and the working poor and is evidenced in the escalation of structural violence through poverty, hunger, unemployment and the lack of education and health care. It is a story of which we are all too painfully familiar and is made possible in part by the ethos of violence deeply etched in the “wood grains”of our history.
George Zimmerman may have pulled the trigger that killed Trayvon Martin, but the climate of such violence has been historically fostered by a culture of fear and permissiveness that creates hatred and suspicion of black men in general and stigmatizes them as persons to be nearly always, feared, shunned, suspected, and if perceived as a threat, killed.
Long before the Stand Your Ground laws came into existence, the social pathologies of some aspects of American culture and society have made pulling the trigger on people that we fear or dislike acceptable. Such behavior has always raised the outrage and ire of caring citizens who value all human life and are sickened by any form of violence against innocent people, whatever their color or gender especially children and youths.
We all concur that the killings must stop. We all understand that the prejudices, ignorance and fear that cause Americans to destroy each other in fitful rages of violence do not come from the hands of God but are socially acquired and culturally conditioned.
No human being is born hating another human being. No person comes into this world with the bigotries and intolerance that drive men to kill and maim their fellow man. Those feelings and beliefs are taught to them or handed down to them or instilled within them over time. They are bred through the matrix of human experiences which stoke the fires of fear, drench us with feelings of dread and instigate those racial and cultural suspicions that keep us at perpetual war with each other.
When will we as Americans recognize the real enemy and stop the politics of resentment that undermine our nation and splinter us still into divided camps?
The tragedy of Trayvon Martin is that a young life has been terminated by someone reputed to be another gun toting vigilante, a neighborhood watchman of the night, who has now added Trayvon’s name to the death ledgers of those innocent youths who have perished by gun violence, creating more endless litanies of lament that have mired his parents and other parents whose children have also died prematurely by violence, in an endless trail of blood, pain and tears.
Every American should be moved to positively change the minds, hearts and souls of people who harbor such animus; to change the culture and society which miscarries and denies justice and gives tacit consent to senseless and multiple acts of violence against people because they are different or other or because historically they have been our scapegoats of scorn .
We must finally fashion a society that banishes all ignorance, overrides all fear and challenges us to transcend those dogmas and mantras of prejudice and hatred that keep us perilously divided and prevent us from truly knowing one another.
We must all commit to building a world where our children can live freely so they can have and raise their own children and live to old age without fear of being gunned down or violated in any form because an unspoken bounty has been placed on their heads.
It also means creating a world where the victims and their families can finally find rest because their killers have been brought to justice and the families of the victimizers can also find rest from their deep pain and sorrow.
The tragedy is that if we do not address the root causes of the violence that continually engulf us, and begin instilling within our children at a young age a respect for all persons, such destructive acts will continue to haunt this nation for the rest of our days and more youths like Trayvon Martin will sadly meet their untimely ends from people like George Zimmerman.