My Skin is Black: In Memory of Trayvon Martin

I started writing this post last week about being black in America, but I had trouble finishing the post so I just saved it. Last night, I heard the most devastating news in my life…George Zimmerman was found not guilty. An unarmed 17 year old boy weighing 160 lbs, 5’11” was convicted of his own death. The jury said it was his fault. My hands were shaking as I text my friend about the news and she responded that she was in tears. I was at a cookout with about 100 other African Americans, Africans, and Caribbean persons, when we heard the news. A collective gasp was let out and then a series of disbelieving remarks. However, after a few minutes people were shrugging and dancing again. Not because this news made us happy, but it simply confirmed what we were hoping was no longer still true: our black lives are worthless in America.

What follows this statement may offend, hurt, or even make some feel guilty but our avoidance and quietness of having these discussions needs to end. If you were not born black or brown in America, you have no idea what it is like to live a life of double consciousness just to preserve your being. You have not lived in persistent fear of police officers in your neighborhood. You don’t know what it’s like to have your culture commodified and placed on display as if it is foreign and alien. You have not witnessed the men and women of your culture being disparaged in media. You’ve probably never been followed in the mall so you don’t understand why most black and brown people “dress” to go to the mall. No one profiles you in EVERY setting as soon as you walk in the door. You don’t discuss with your children specific rules of conducting themselves when out by themselves because they are black or brown. You have no idea what it is like to experience institutional and structural racism for no other reason besides your skin color.

I mourn with his family and the families of all the other victims mistakenly perceived as a threat because of their skin color. If you want to cure this illness in America, then have a discussion with your black and brown friends about whiteness and what it has done to America. You’re probably not racist if you follow this blog, but feeling guilt or pity is not what we want to hear. Until we discuss whiteness, blackness and brownness will continue to be profiled and persecuted.

Go see “Frutivale”. Un-learn this abhorrent culture. Be well.


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