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The Trayvon Martin in US

An American Tragedy

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Edited By 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 21 st 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 Four:   If We Must Die: Trayvon Martin and the Black Piñata

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CHAPTER FOUR

If We Must Die: Trayvon Martin and the Black Piñata

QUITO J. SWAN

Born in the British colony of Bermuda in the 1970s, I grew up amidst the later years of Robert Nestor Marley, Cool & the Gang, Saturday cartoons, Kung Fu movies like Secrets of Chinese Chess Boxing, Rasta as outlaw culture, a White oligarchic government, Boogie Down Productions and Slick Rick cassette tapes, Reggae sound systems like Stone Love, Rude Boy and Spanish Town, and the U.S. invasion of Grenada. My father and mother both held working-class jobs in Bermuda’s general post office. My father, a former jazz musician, was the son of a successful Calypso artist. His mother was an herbalist of sorts, and he had been raised on a farm. One of my most distinct childhood memories was that of him, my uncle and older brother clearing our hedges with machetes. Even though I preferred to spend my Saturday mornings catching lizards with reed traps, climbing loquat trees, fishing off the rocks with bait made from flour and water, diving into the ocean over the cliffs of Bermuda’s North Shore or riding a used bike that I imagined was a brand-new BMX, I was often summoned to join them in such laborious tasks. But as adulthood can transform mundane moments of childhood into nostalgic memories, when a childhood friend, Dubois, and I strolled into a local hardware store to purchase a few tools to do some yard...

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