become accustomed to preparing myself for. In matters such as these, I’ve learned to prepare for the worse…to have no expectations. It’s a defense mechanism that I’ve worked on for as long as I can remember.
You see, being a black person in America has been quite a challenge. While I am a proud American, I have always felt a clear distinction between being American and being African American. There has always seemed to be two existing paths to everything. There’s one that is traveled by Americans and another for the journey of the African American. While both paths can arguably lead to success, the road that I have access to is wrought with obstacles, pitfalls and hidden agendas. It’s filled with dead ends, detours and setbacks. It’s dark, uphill, and challenging to navigate. The very design seems downright sinister. Because the other road was developed to help Americans reach their goals, they are able to make it safely to their intended destination without incidence. This makes it difficult for them to understand the challenges that I face.
After all, how would they know when they have never been on the path? I mean
really, could I expect that a jury of six made up of at least five Americans
would see that Trayvon Martin should have been able to return home safely from
the store that fateful night? Could I really expect them to see that he did not
deserve to die? Could I expect them to see that George Zimmerman had no right
to approach him? Could I expect them to see that George Zimmerman should have
followed the advisement of the dispatcher who told him not to follow Trayvon?
Could I really expect them to put themselves in Trayvon’s shoes and think about
how they would feel if a stranger were following them? Could I really expect
them to see the value in Trayvon’s life? Probably not.
Unfortunately, Trayvon Martin was just another kid on the wrong path and
that’s all Americans seem to be able to see. Oh how I long to travel on the
American path. I stand in front of it often and peer down its open and bright
entryway. Every now and again I find the courage to take a few awkward steps on
that road. Americans notice me immediately and redirect me to my own familiar
path. That’s what happened tonight. Tonight the “Not Guilty” verdict ripped
the innocence from my youngest son’s eyes while simultaneously proving that the
blindfold on lady justice’s eyes has slipped just beneath them. The small
glimmer of hope that I could gain access to the American path was gone in an
instant. I felt a sense of defeat, a bit of anger, a smidgeon of disbelief, and
an overwhelming sense of sadness and disappointment. All are reminders of the
journey that I must endure as an African American. Rest in peace Trayvon.