It was a Sunday afternoon, February 26, 2012 and a 17-year-old African-American high school student went out for a walk in his gated community. He was wearing a hoodie and he had a package of skittles in his pocket. He never came home.
His name was Trayvon Benjamin Martin and he died from a gunshot wound to the chest. Trayvon’s English teacher described him as “an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness”. The shooter claimed self-defense. Trayvon was unarmed.
I was gutted. I couldn’t stop crying. I still cry whenever I hear his name.
On a Sunday afternoon February 23, 2020, a young African-American man went out for a jog in Georgia. He never came home.
His name was Ahmaud Arbery and a video has gone viral saying he was lynched. An armed father and son, a couple of white supremacists, hunted him down and shot him. They claimed he looked like a robbery suspect. Neither of his killers have been charged. Ahmaud was unarmed.
I am gutted. I can’t stop crying.
Hatred makes no sense. It is irrational. It is taught by parents to children, sometimes in schools and all across the internet. Justice for hate crimes of this kind, in this country, has a history of not being served.
A client of mine who lives in the South, once told me she didn’t get why African Americans keep talking about slavery about race. “It was a long time ago,” she said.
This is why. Because the roots of that first act of white supremacy and hatred called slavery, run deep. Because bad things happen to innocent black boys and men who go out for walks alone on a Sunday.
I cannot list the names of all of them here. The African American men and women who have been killed without cause by murderous vigilantes in this country in the name of “safety” and “protection”, solely on the basis on the color of their skin, many of whom who not been brought to justice. I might not get up again.
And I need to keep walking, to keep using my voice to move the conversation toward love to make sure that everyone I know helps justice to be served for Ahmaud.
I want Trayvon Benjamin Martin not to have died in vain and I want every young black man who goes out for a walk alone, comes back home.