To my friends that do not understand the anger and sadness many African-Americans feel right now, suffer me to recall your mind to anything that you learned about Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Pleasy V. Ferguson, 3/5 compromise, Sean Bell, Sixteenth Street Bombing, or any event in history that you shook your head at in dismay because you could not imagine that your country had citizens like that or laws that allowed for the disenfranchisement and discrimination of black bodies. To you it may just be an ephemeral intellectual or emotional experience that you can pass off as something that just happened in the past. You may be able to say that America is no longer like that, that we surely have come far, that we have a black president, that our legal system is just and fair. History is not a dead subject. As such, I, like many African-Americans live with a history of terror every day, not because we are victims who can’t get over the bullshit of the past, but because the history is alive—that is the bull shit has not stopped, it just comes from a more “progressive” cow.
Though my entire identity is not shaped by this history of terror and an unjust legal system, it is part of who I am. I’ve had a gun pulled on me as a 12 year old, I’ve been on the wrong side of excessive force, I have been hand cuffed for no reason, and I was raised to fear da police. Beyond these outright forms of terror, I also experience micro-aggressions often because of the melanin of my skin. Micro-Aggressions that question if I went to Texas A&M in College Station or that question if I played a damn sport when I was there.
Many of us were hoping that the outcome would correct history and that justice would prevail because the trial was part of our American experience–a life on trial and under constant surveillance. Further, the outcome was disheartening because Trayvon Martin could have very well been one of our sons. I have a 12 year old who is often the only black body in public spaces. This decision justifies his murder if he ever finds himself in a space that another believes his black body does not belong.
So no, there was no blood on the leaves this time, but there was blood on the grass. It was the blood of a young boy with college aspirations, a young boy who had not yet lived life on his own terms; he was a young boy who also sang America. Yet his chance to live out the freedoms and rights of America were first questioned then killed, and to me and many other African-Americans that is an all too familiar story.