Friday, March 23, 2012

Black Mothers See Trayvon Martin as this Generation's Emmett Till

Trayvon Martin (1995-2012)
Psychologists have often accused black mothers of overprotecting their sons. Blogger LaShaun Williams observes:

     When little black girls go to school teachers do not expect for them to fail in the same way they do little black boys. Black women are not profiled by law enforcement the same way as black men. And, employers are much more inclined to hire us.

Emmett Till (1941-1955)
   If we do coddle our sons, it may be because with every generation, life stamps into our retinas the gut-wrenching images of what American society can do to young black males. For my Mother's generation, it was the mangled body of fourteen year old Emmett Till, lying in a coffin after being fished out of the muddy waters of the Tallahatchie River.  He had come down to Mississippi from Chicago to spend the summer with his grandparents.  This child's fatal mistake was saying "hey babe," to a white woman in a store.  Fifty-seven years later, was Trayvon Martin’s fatal mistake wearing a hoodie? Or was it walking down the street in the gated community where his father lives, in a state with "Stand Your Ground" gun laws, authorizing the use of deadly force by civilians, who claim that they have been threatened.

The shooter was 28 year old George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch volunteer and policeman want-a-be, with a criminal record of domestic violence.  In a 911 call to police at the time of the incident, he referred to Martin as a "fucking coon." However, in the last week or so, Zimmerman has changed his ethnicity from white to Hispanic, in order to avoid being charged for a hate crime.

Since this Trayvon Martin case erupted, knots have wrung out the lining of my stomach, making it hard to sleep or eat.  How many more generations of black mothers will have to live as I now do in abject fear for the lives of our sons?