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An Open Letter To Trayvon Martin

By J. Tinsley / 03.20.12

trayvon martin

“In the past if you picture events like a black tie
What the last thing you expect to see, black guys?
What’s the life expectancy for black guys?
The system’s working effectively, that’s why!…”
Kanye West, “Murder To Excellence

Dear Trayvon,

With the incredible amount of coverage surrounding your death since late February, deciding how to approach this has taken weeks of soul searching. Addressing the subject was critical, yet not rehashing the same information was even moreso. That’s why I figured a letter sent directly to you was the only applicable strategy. Lord knows I could stand to go to church more, but maybe through the power of faith, you and your family will come across this letter.

In the age we live in, Tray, nothing’s a secret anymore. We knew about you, your life and the final moments of it mere minutes after it happened. Since then, George Zimmerman’s become Public Enemy No. 1 and still has yet to be arrested, Toure posted one of the most idiotic tweets a person could muster in a predicament such as yours and the world’s pretty much labeled you as this generation’s Emmett Till.

As one bullet taught you, living in a society that greets “equality” with open arms is more utopia than reality. It’s not your fault either; it’s how the world has operated since people began recording history. Whatever you were doing that warranted cutting your life short, I’ll probably never know and part of me wants to never uncover the true chain of events.

The only reason why I do is so your family can have some sense of closure. They deserve you, but at the very least they deserve that. Your presence in a neighborhood brought forth the worst insecurities in a man who believed stereotypes were mandated as hereditary. It’s not fair lil’ man, but to say this is the first time it ever happened, I’d be lying to you.

Anyone can testify, young minority men and women being gunned down has been a epidemic that has been plaguing this country for years. Believe it or not, millions of Trayvon Martins over the decades whose deaths have fallen by the wayside for various reasons are documented in obituaries from New York to Los Angeles and every town and city in between.

Chop it up with Oscar Grant, Sean Bell and Latasha Harlins. Oscar was laying on his stomach when cops shot him. Sean was only hours away from walking down the aisle with the love of his life. And Latasha – who was immortalized by the late Tupac Shakur – was murdered by Soon Ja Du who believed Tasha was planning to steal a drink out of her store.

Surveying how your life ended, I’ve been lucky to escape some situations unscathed. Perhaps God has something bigger planned for my life in the same vein your death was meant to provide a focal point for revolution. What’s numbing, however, is knowing Trayvon Martin will never have the opportunity to experience anything from high school graduation, his first college party getting drunk or even allowing his mother to become a grandmother.

These thoughts help line everything into perspective. You were cheated out of some of the reasons life is even worth living. All you wanted was to do the same thing I was doing the night Zimmerman decided to take matters in his own hands was watch the NBA All Star Game.

Like me.

Getty Image

“I’m startin to think all the rich in the world is safe
While the po’ babies resting in the early graves
God come save the youth
Ain’t nothin else to do but have faith in you…”
Tupac, “Hellrazor”

I pray I’m wrong when I say this, but in all likelihood senseless violence will continue unless a commitment bigger than a single case, year or generation is willing to be taken on. A chracteristic far too common in today’s society is “words without action.” The thought of change and altering the scope of history by taking a stand sounds appealing, but putting in groundwork are two different things.

For your parents and brother’s sake, I hope candy wasn’t what you died for. You don’t deserve that. History doesn’t deserve that. And all the prayers I have go to your mother, father and brother because they don’t either (and any other family who’ve lost loved ones to violence). With Shanyia Davis some two years ago, witnessing what has yet to happen to the both of you make me damn near petrified to bring kids into the world.

No parent deserves to bury a life they helped create. There’s nothing human or logical in that. If any person wants to know what hell looks like, try two places: prison and wherever a parent is when they receive word their child is dead. And once the 9-1-1 calls emerged with the last moments of your life spent yelling for anyone to protect you? It’s just too much for me to deal with and sensitivity isn’t exactly my strongest trait.

Tray, God bless you and what your family are going through and what they’ll be forced to deal with for years to come. Time heals all wounds, but the scar remains for eternity. Hopefully, and if there is any sense of good left in this country, your scar is worth more than a bag of Skittles and iced tea. I’m sorry.

Sincerely,

America


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