All weekend long I thought about the death of Trayvon Martin. I thought about the trial and acquittal of his killer as well, but I thought mostly about Trayvon and his family. I thought about his supporters and the state of affairs in this country for young black males. I read blogs and articles written from many different perspectives. I followed the various protests and marches going on around the country on my Facebook wall, and on the news, and I contemplated my own sadness and what meaning all of this holds for me.
I am the mother of two boys ages 20 and 13, and a daughter 17. As a white woman with white kids, I ask myself what part I play in this injustice, in the grieving, in being a part of the solution, and in the evolution to a better society. On the one hand I know full well the role I play. I’m the mom of kids with friends with all colors of skin, from all backgrounds and ethnicities, I’m a lover of kids and a lover of people. Why should I set myself apart because I am white? Why should I not experience this grief both communally and personally, and why should I not, in my own way, protest the kind of injustice perpetrated against Trayvon Martin? On the other hand, I know it is my job to be quiet and listen to the voices of those who know first hand what it’s like to be black in America, to be the mother or father of a black son, to be a young black man, and to experience the very real truth of the associated dangers and perils faced every day by young, black American men.
I don’t want to appropriate another’s grief and I don’t want to pretend to know what it feels like to face that unique danger, but all things considered, I know where I stand. I am a mother, and I grieve with the mother of Trayvon, and with the countless other mothers who have lost their young black men in one way or another, to violence, to incarceration, to a white audience that doesn’t care to understand deeply. I am a mother who wants a safer, kinder, more equitable world for ALL people.
I bear the grief of the loss of Trayvon and others because I care deeply, and because I recognize and deplore injustice. That is the bottom line.
So I felt a dreadful sense of precognition today when I called my oldest boy to hear him sobbing hysterically on the other end of the phone. He told me had just been notified of the death of his “brother”, his “right hand man”, his good friend. This young man was shot and killed late last night while sitting in a car with another young man in Seattle, outside of a convenience store, waiting for a friend who had gone into the store. The details at this time are unknown, but what I know now is that my son and his community of friends are grieving the senseless, violent death of another young black American male, one of their own, one of our own. And I am shown clearly that I am not separate from any of it.