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The Trayvon Martin in US

An American Tragedy


Emmanuel Harris II and Antonio D. Tillis

The events surrounding the Trayvon Martin murder, trial and acquittal bring to public and private discourse the violent, brutal murders of Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Dr. King, while bringing back to memory the racially provoked murders of Black American and Black immigrant men such as Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant and more recently, Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York. The name of Trayvon Martin has become trope in the 21st century, which crystallizes US racial politics regarding Blackness, specifically the Black male: a metaphoric symbol of this history of America’s regard for Black bodies, as well as a metonym, a name that has become a contemporary substitute for terrorist attacks targeting Black bodies. The works included here imply that Trayvon Martin, as trope, reverberates in the most conscientious of ‘US’; and, this epic tragedy is one that has plagued ‘US’ since Africans and people of African descent first arrived to the Americas. The essays range from the profoundly personal to the thoroughly investigated, and conclude with the statement from President Barack H. Obama in the epilogue. The Trayvon Martin in US is essential reading for anyone who is involved in race relations or teaches the topic.
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Chapter Fourteen: Reflections on the Diversity of Thought in Black America on the Trayvon Martin Case



Reflections on the Diversity of Thought in Black America on the Trayvon Martin Case


As a person who sees the contradictions and dialectical tensions within myself and in Black America, I find the responses to the Trayvon Martin case illuminating. For example, according to the New York Daily News, the New Black Panther Party, founded in 1989, issued a $10,000 reward for the capture of George Zimmerman, the son of a retired Orange County magistrate judge.1 They warned of a citizen’s arrest after which the police could get George from the Panthers. U.S. Representative Bobby Rush, and a former member of the 1960s Black Panthers, wore a hoodie on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to demonstrate solidarity with protestors who called for a trial of the Trayvon Martin case.2 Derryck Green, a spokesperson for Project 21, the self-named National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives, stated that George Zimmerman was rightly “defending his neighborhood because it had been burglarized eight or nine times.” In the African American community, the responses, by reactionaries, reformists, and revolutionaries to the murder of the seventeen-year-old teenager reflect the persistent diversity of thought among Black folks on the issues of race, justice, and the American way.3

In the aftermath of the acquittal of George Zimmerman of second-degree murder charges, the diversity of responses persisted. The organization, Malcolm X Grassroots, posted a July 15, 2013 blog titled, “The Zimmerman Verdict...

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