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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 Nine:   A Message to My Daughter: Of Trayvon Martin and Young Black Men



A Message to My Daughter: Of Trayvon Martin and Young Black Men


Life for me hasn’t been a crystal stair, but I keep climbing. I know it may seem odd, Savannah, that I would write to you now like this, but what happened to Trayvon Martin has had a deep and lasting effect on me. Do you remember when I showed you the People magazine with the Black boy on the cover and I asked you, “Do you know who this is?” And you looked and then said sadly, “Kalani.” It nearly brought tears to my eyes to think that you would mistake Trayvon Martin for your brother. Yet the resemblance between the two of them, especially in that photograph, was undeniable. And this brought home even more the fact that it could have been your brother who was killed that night.

A whole new array of emotions ran through me months later when the jury in Florida ruled Trayvon’s killer to be not guilty of all charges. That someone could take the life of another person who was merely walking home from the corner store carrying candy and an iced tea and that the legal system would find him not guilty is an abomination. That the person killed looks like your brother, looks like me, is terrifying. That the deceased was feared and thought suspicious because he was a young Black man is regretfully common...

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