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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

when nightmares become realities

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.

10 comments:

It Is What It Is said...

I first heard about the story on The Today Show yesterday (we live in CA so it took some time for it to reach the national news). I was shocked and horrified to hear the 911 call(s) and to hear Zimmerman say that the person calling for help was himself and not Tray. It made his whole story one big fat lie in my mind. It was an unprovoked attack and that child was senselessly murdered by a man who didn't have a right mind (I am not saying he was insane, I am saying he lead an indoctrinated life that made him think that a black boy walking alone at night meant that that boy was automatically a criminal.

At any rate, there are so many known (and unknown) dangers in life (like the woman in NY who was crushed and nearly killed by a falling shopping cart that 2 youths pushed off a parking structure). There is no way to guard against some things. It is awful, as a parent, the silent worry we constantly carry around.

Victoria at Figuring Out The Details said...

Agreed. We live about 20-30 minutes from Sanford, and I have zero desire to ever visit there again. As horrifying and devastating I find Martin's murder, I am even more disturbed by the City of Sanford's and their police force's response to it. The poor boy was even a John Doe overnight even though his family filed a missing person's report. The cops didn't even bother to check Zimmerman's BAC or do any other drug tests. These things just blow my mind. I feel terribly for both the Martin and Zimmerman families, and I hope the Martin family finds the peace they are seeking.

LiberalGranolaGirl said...

I am so saddened and outraged at what happened to Trayvon. As a parent I am also scared for my children.

It Is What It Is said...

I signed this:
http://signon.org/sign/justice-for-trayvon-martin?source=s.em.mt&r_by=3033682

It has 248K signatures on it's way to 250K.

It Is What It Is said...

It seems that the public outrage and national attention has gotten the attention of the US Justice Dept & FBI who are looking into the matter (YAY!):
http://www.wesh.com/r/30719969/detail.html

Angie said...

This case is so heartbreaking.

April said...

I hadn't heard about this but it makes me so sad. I grew up in longwood and my brother went to Seminole HS. It makes me so mad that crap like this still exists. As an adoptive mother and someone who hopes to adopt more children that may not be my race it makes me so aware that there will always be people who don't accept others or even give them the chance they deserve. Really sad that all these stories are shining such a negative light on Orlando. I loved growing up there!

Rebecca said...

This whole situation has been so mind boggling upsetting. I've felt the same way you do -- how could we live in a world like this? It scares me a lot.

Ginger said...

Thank you for your post on this. I read the transcript of the 911 tapes on CNN and it was chilling.

Doogie said...

Unfortunately, life is like a velociraptor attack. You're focused on velociraptor you can see in front of you, watching you, waiting to pounce, and you're taking every precaution to make sure he doesn't jump you, when suddenly you are torn apart by the two velociraptors on your left and right that you never even saw coming.

We think we're ready for what life can throw at us, but there's no rhyme or reason to what happens to us. You just power through, do the best you can, and hope for the best.