Trayvon Martin would have been 23 today.
It has to be raining for me to put my hood up. And that’s only if it’s raining during daylight hours. I, like every Black person in this country, walk with the fear of white rage ending our lives.
Trayvon Martin would have been 23 today.
It feels astoundingly stupid to admit to being scared to wear something as normal and non threatening as a hoodie. Yet this is the America that elected Trump and still proudly waves confederate flags. This is the America where 223 Black Americans were killed in 2017 by the police. This is the America where we are only one angry white person away from seeing a Black person's name fade from being attached to a living breathing light to a hashtag.
No one should ever have to feel as close to death as a Black American feels daily.
In the 5 years since Trayvon was murdered by George Zimmerman, our country has gone from having a Black president, to Trump. We have slipped so far backwards that George Zimmermans are marching on college campuses under the guise of “The Alt Right”. The anger that has always existed in white America has, it seems, reach a boiling point. Instead of us having a leader there to ignite the flames he is instead tending to and often stroking the fire.
The leader of the DOJ, Jeff Sessions, does little to hide both his racism and proud support of the police; including them having access to means of force that should only be seen in war. Police have never felt so empowered. And with a GOP majority in the senate the NRA has never had to rest easier knowing that gun ownership tied with lenient laws will continue to flourish in white America.
George Zimmerman isn’t a one off. He isn’t a lone wolf. He is the living breathing embodiment of what a culture of racism, hatred, propaganda, and privilege can create.
Up against a wall, barely being able to breathe, with an invisible anchor tied to your feet: that’s what every day since Trump has taken office has felt like. “Normal” fears of racism have been exasperated. What happens when “racism” is no longer seen as a bad thing. When “tolerance” is seen as something that we must extend to white supremacists? Beyond normalizing. Accepting. That is the road we have been headed down since Trump’s inauguration.
My anger at times burns as bright as the crosses of the cowards who wear hoods to hide their faces while practicing the most vile forms of hate. But recently my emotions have dived into a much more dangerous place. The absolute volume of xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia that has filled our news cycle has left me numb.
We are a nation built off the backs of slaves. We are a country that does not honor their names — hell, we rarely gave them that basic human right. We ignore our history while repeating it every fucking day. Slavery is over? Look at our prison system, which houses 22% of the worlds' prisoners. No more Jim Crow? Consider the amount of POC who can’t vote because they have criminal records, or have the misfortune of living in heavily gerrymandered districts. I say “we,” because racism is a disease that plagues and affects us all.
It is more than a sickness. It is a virus.
We can not look at our country's recent fall from grace without fully understanding the role that racism is playing in our demise. We can not ignore the fact that after eight years of Black leadership, white rage reached peaks high enough and panicked enough to allow our country's reigns to be passed over to a buffoon. And while he systemically destroys everything Obama gave us, the GOP offers nothing. It is time we stopped asking when they will, and accept the racist white constituents for exactly that. We are past silence being violence. Silence in 2018 America is deadly.
It is the plight of the Black body in America to fight. Fight to live. Fight for equality. Fight for justice. Fight for significance. And when we aren’t fighting we are just living. When we are going to the store for a pack of Skittles, when our guard is down and we are briefly living carefree lives, listening to music with our hoodies on, we find ourselves silenced.
Able to fight no more.
I don’t want to know a Black youth's name because I know of his murder. I want to know his name because of his successes.