My Trayvon Martin loves baseball, basketball and his little sister. He loves to dote on her and sees it as his job to protect her.
As I write this, he is feeding her breakfast before he heads out to baseball camp.
My Trayvon Martin will be 8 years old in December. It pains me to think that in a few short years my fun-loving grandson will be public enemy number one to some people. His parents will have to school him on what not to do if he is stopped by the police. They will tell him to watch how he behaves in public, how he dresses and how he wears his hair. All these decisions will play a role in whether he is racially profiled.
This is a truth for all parents of young black men. I have four nephews, ranging in age from 13 to 3. What will their futures be? They are bright, the apples of their parents’ eyes and our hope for tomorrow.
This week, the trial of George Zimmerman began in a Florida courtroom. A jury of six women must decide if Zimmerman acted in self-defense, or if he committed second degree manslaughter. In this case, it is hard to separate facts from rhetoric. Was Trayvon an innocent teenager walking home from the store with a drink and a pack of Skittles; or did he attack Zimmerman after the neighborhood watch captain began to follow him? Who was practicing self-defense, Zimmerman or Trayvon?
Only two people know what really happened that night and one of them is dead. The other has changed his story multiple times and tried to hide his assets.
One thing is certain, racial profiling is a fact of life for young black men. It colors their every movement. Yes, young black men disproportionally commit more crimes that their counterparts. But that should not mean they should all be viewed as threats.
It happened to the 13-year-old son of my friends Ava and Dale Greenwell, who was stopped and handcuffed by police in his own suburban Chicago neighborhood. Ava, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote about the incident and has sued the police department officers who stopped her son because the clothes he was wearing generally matched those of a burglary suspect.
It happened to my colleague Wayne’s son in his own neighborhood. He too took action against the security guard his gated neighborhood hired to protect its residents. After Wayne demanded an apology, the guard opted to quit his job instead.
All these young men are Trayvon Martin.
My grandson is my pride and joy. So are my nephews. They are my Trayvon Martin.
See Ava Greenwell’s column here: