The smear campaign against Trayvon Martin has begun.
"They killed my son and now they're trying to kill his reputation," Trayvon's mother Sybrina Fulton told reporters on Monday.
Officially, the depth of racism knows no depths. I can’t say I’m surprised, but I wanted to be. There’s always been good reason in America for taking a Black life. This time, excusers grasp at hollow straws like the hoodie Trayvon wore, a widely circulated picture of a teenager in a “f—k the world” stance that turned out NOT to be Trayvon, or police leaked information about an empty marijuana baggie found in his back pack. And in each outlandish accusation, I hear what isn’t being said loud and clear: he was Black and though unarmed, he was a threat. There's always some justification, a way to excuse the inexcusable when a Black life is taken.
Geraldo Rivera (who hasn’t been relevant in years), told "Fox & Friends" on Friday, “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman was” and pleaded with the two Black people who watch Fox not to let their children wear hoodies, as if that matters. As Bill Maher pointed out, Martin and Malcolm wore suits and they’re dead just the same. But Rivera has a clear enough agenda. I have little doubt that his shuffle-step-fetch, one that Rivera’s own son said he was ashamed of, eventually will pan out in the elder Rivera’s favor with a cozy new weekday time slot for “Geraldo at Large”, one that people actually watch.
Yesterday, The Orlando-Sentinel reported that Trayvon laid out his would-be murderer George Zimmerman, in a single punch the way Mike Tyson once did his opponents in the first round (no mention made that Zimmerman outweighed him by 100 lbs). It seems, they’re trying to defuse the powder keg that’s been lit in their own backyard by casting doubt on Trayvon’s Skittle-carrying innocence. And whomever it was that scrounged up a picture of Trayvon's thug-life doppelgänger is trying to the same: justify the unjustifiable.
An unarmed child, whether he had the cherub-esque cheeks of a boy just reaching puberty or the chiseled jawline of a man-child entering his prime, he was a teenager who was preyed upon by a grown-behind man playing Batman in his downtime. Trayvon was murdered and his killer remains free, finding undoubted comfort in someone’s cozy living room and protection in Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which since its enactment in 2005 in Florida has tripled the number of homicides by private citizens.
Trayvon isn’t the first Black male gunned down without cause. And he won’t be the last. But maybe he’s the breaking point of Black America swallowing its pride and prematurely burying Her sons as part of the routine of Living While Black. Maybe it’s also the wake up call to non-Black America, many of whom share our current outrage, that our ongoing cries of racism aren’t empty complaints. This case isn’t going away quietly, quickly replaced by the next big news story. Trayvon’s folks have embarked on a nationwide media tour to make sure the tragedy of their son’s death is remembered, not so unlike Emmett Till’s mother in 1955, who demanded an open casket so the world could see what America did her boy. What we still do to Black boys and men in 2012.
It's been over a month since Trayvon's murder and still we wait for Zimmerman's arrest. Zimmerman, a man who derided Black folk as “fucking coons” on his 911 call, as reported by ABC, sends his delusional Black friend to the national press to plead his case. President Obama carefully chooses his words when he comments on this American tragedy but notes, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” And the right wing hops all over him for stating the obvious. They’d do the same even it wasn’t an election year. Everyone with a camera phone and a bathroom mirror uploads pictures of themselves rocking hoodies, in protest to the assumption that a sweatshirt with hood makes you a criminal instead of a person who is cold or maybe just kinda cool. And so many of us tweet of lofty ideals like justice and fairness like America’s ever been known for either. And so we wait, with patience thinning, watching the calendar, anticipating action and hoping against the fear in our stomachs that Florida, that America, will rise to the occasion and defy the odds by doing the right thing.