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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 Five:   The Pain Felt by Every Afro-Descendant



The Pain Felt by Every Afro-Descendant


“The Pain Felt by Every Afro-Descendent” is dedicated to my nephews Christiaan and Nicholas, and to all the Black men who have inspired me throughout my journey and have embraced me with their love and resiliency.

“Mom, why are you crying so much? I have never seen you cry like this and it is not family.” Those were the words of my 12-year-old nephew, as he watched his mother, my sister, cry after the Zimmerman verdict was announced. This case was about the pain of a family, of a mother losing her young son. It also became a case underscoring where America stands on race relations, what justice will look like, and whether it will show up in a way that validates the Black experience. As we all watched the trial, I kept saying this might happen again. I wanted to be hopeful but I was upset that this young boy was being judged and stigmatized even after his death. He was still carrying the weight of what it is to be a Black person in America (women, men, boys, and girls). The case caught my attention from the beginning, as I kept repeating to myself that this could be my nephew. In working with youths of color, both boys and girls, I also learned that the young women thought that this could happen to them. It crossed gender and became a...

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