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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 Seven:   Mater Dolorosa: The Bléssed Virgin Wore a Hoodie



Mater Dolorosa: The Bléssed Virgin Wore a Hoodie



Something in B29’s agonized voice made her recognizable to me. Her sense of burden and angst were palpable through the static that often accompanies interstate radio emissions. Ironically, as I listened that Friday morning, I was on my way to Florida. “Florida,” I thought. “My mother retired to the state where someone shot a young man and was not even (originally) arrested. How could this happen?” As the minutes became the miles that shortened the distance to my destination, I listened to juror B29 explain her decision to find George Zimmerman not guilty. B29 confessed she wanted a hung jury. “But the way the law was written,” she explained, made it impossible to vote otherwise. Her voice sullen, strained, and deep, B29 recounted her inability to sleep and her distress. She spoke as a mother, as a woman, as a member of a minority community who has also been the target of discrimination. She spoke as someone who believes in God: “George Zimmerman got away with murder, but you can’t get away from God. And at the end of the day, he’s going to have a lot of questions and answers he has to deal with….” God would punish him; this was the subtext. God would do what our justice system had failed to deliver.

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