There are times when I sit back, look at the world around me, and I ask, "Do I want to raise a child in this?"
By now, most of you know about Trayvon Martin. We live about 30 miles south of where the shooting occurred, so Joey and I first heard about it when the headlines read something about a neighborhood watch leader shooting a suspicious teen. In the days and weeks that followed, and as the story unraveled, we all learned that this wasn't the most accurate depiction of what happened. We also watched as the story began to spread. Between Friday and today, I've seen more people outside of this area post about Trayvon Martin on Twitter and Facebook than those who are local.
While we always seem to end up in the spotlight (Casey Anthony, Michelle Parker, and now Trayvon Martin), the Orlando area isn't any worse than other cities as far as crime goes. Sure there are murders like any other major metropolitan area, but much of it is gang or drug related and these activities are only common in certain areas of town. We're a racially diverse city and one that is generally accepting of others who have different backgrounds than our own.
Yet, like everywhere, some people aren't as accepting. As much as I would like to believe that Florida is not the South, it is. It's a state filled with good ol' boys and its laws allow you to carry a gun and shoot that gun virtually anywhere – so long that you can prove you were "standing your ground," which is what the shooter is essentially arguing.
Martin was a 17-year-old, unarmed child who weighed approximately 140 pounds. George Zimmerman is a 28-year-old, armed man who weighs approximately 250 pounds. It was never about self-defense. Zimmerman could have easily subdued Martin if Martin had come after him.
But that most likely never happened.
There is enough to worry about as a parent. It starts even before your child is born. As that child gets older, I imagine the fears a parent has for their child not only change, but they increase. Because when a child is a child, you can still protect them. But when that child goes out into the world on his or her own, how do you shield them from the dangers, and the dangerous people, around them?
You can't, and that scares the shit out of me.
I am sad that, in 2012, we are still judging people by the color of their skin. It upsets me to think of how different the events might have played out if Zimmerman had followed police instructions, or if he had not owned a gun. Or if Trayvon had been white. I am heartbroken for Trayvon Martin's family, and I'm terrified for other families whose children's lives might be at stake because they look, dress, or act different.
Trayvon "Tray" Martin was a superior student athlete who excelled in math. He wanted to major in engineering, and he went to aviation school part time because he dreamed of becoming a pilot someday. He enjoyed building model cars and airplanes, and according to his teachers, was always smiling. He was shot walking back to his father's fiance's house after buying Skittles and a can of iced tea. You can hear his cry for help on the 911 tapes, just before a shot rings out. Over 1,000 people attended his funeral on March 3. This kid was smart. He was loved. And he was taken far too soon.
This event is a wake-up call in many ways, none of which are positive. I think our community and our country will be talking about this for a long time.
They should be.