July 16, 2013

A Better Place

I have debated writing this post since Saturday night.  Partly because I wanted to make sure I gave myself enough time to let the initial feelings of outrage subside and partly because I was not sure I had anything of merit to add to the conversation.

I do not overestimate my position in the world.  I am a father who, out of boredom and opportunity, created a site for his children to enjoy in their future years.  Nevertheless, not speaking about the shooting of Trayvon Martin began to feel strangely disrespectful.  

What bothers me about the verdict of the case is the legal precedent it establishes, the fact that future defense attorneys can refer to this moment as an example when the jury supported their argument. What concerns me is the message it sends to the citizens in "Stand Your Ground" states that you have the right to take it upon yourself to ignore the instructions of trained professionals, to aggressively stalk someone, to initiate a confrontation and then murder them because you feel threatened by the situation you helped to manifest.

I'm not sure why this was the "a-ha" moment for so many people.  Why this case (and its subsequent verdict) received so much attention as compared to the fact that, for the past few years, there has been a war waged in the streets of Chicago. However, I'm slowly beginning to realize that the lack of national outrage at the death of innocent kids in urban centers across America is a separate issue. The issue is thematically related to Tryavon's death, certainly, but they are separate.  And just because the deaths of other innocent children has not received the same level of national media coverage and public outcry does not mean that people are wrong for mobilizing now.

Sippy Cup is light-skinned with hazel eyes and fine, strawberry-blond hair.  The reality is that my son will most likely never have to be subjected to racial profiling.  Nevertheless, I am scared.  I am scared for my friends, for their kids, for my nephew and for my godson, a sweet, loving, supremely intelligent, caramel-skinned young man who lives in Florida.

Tragic moments like these terrify me.  But I cannot let my own fears paralyze me into complacent immobility or, even worse, cynical acceptance.  And so here I am, trying to make sense of this tragedy in the best way I know how.  Trying to find the words to explain to the future version of my children why this happened and why we have to work hard to do whatever is in our power to make sure it never happens again.  My job as their father is to teach my children respect, kindness, compassion and love.  My job is to leave this world a better place than I first found it and I plan to do so by raising two children who will not be afraid of someone simply because of the color of their skin.

I am not a lawyer. I am not a politician. I am not an activist. I am not Trayvon Martin.

I am a father.  And, out of respect to the entire Martin family, I will make sure I do my job.

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