What more can I say to you that hasn’t already been said about what transpired a month ago this past Monday night? I am beside myself with rage and heartbreak. Just when I think I cannot possibly get any angrier or more frustrated, I watch the news and see these cold-hearted media pimps trying to disparage your rep with lies and matters totally unrelated to what happened to you on the street that fateful evening in Sanford, Florida. Only you and George Zimmerman know what went down that grievous night. And you, brother, lie, cold and dead, in the ground unable to tell us your side. Zimmerman, on the other hand, is busy hiding and paying his minions to blow smoke up the public’s supposed post-racial derrieres. But you know Maya Angelou? She’s a poet who really understands the psychology of being Black and she wrote, “You may write me down in history/ With your bitter, twisted lies/ You may trod me in the very dirt/ But still, like dust, I’ll rise.” And yes, in the wake of leaked video footage and eyewitnesses who refute Zimmerman’s “victim” claims that allege you as being the aggressor, I see Black people rise in your name against the same kind of racism that put Emmett Till in a grave 57 years ago. I see people of all races and nationalities all over the world rising up in your name for justice.
I know when you bought that pack of Skittles and that can of tea you were probably anxious to get back home to see if Lebron and The East could rebound after the half and win the All-Star Game. You were, unlike The Notorious BIG, not ready to die. That’s the thing about Black Death—more than half of the time it sets upon our brown bodies when we least suspect.
Can I say just how very proud I am that YOU were the one in this murderous plot to stand your ground. You didn’t run as your girlfriend suggested. No doubt that would’ve been misconstrued as you fleeing, but you recognized, clearly marked by an ancestral spirit of dignity and belonging, that on some level you had every right to be there and so you walked… quickly. So courageous. Then Zimmerman set-upon you and you screamed for help. Every time I hear your cries, I cry. Every. Time. You were a young man, but you were brave enough, smart enough to scream for your precious life. I’m so sorry no one came to your rescue. My godmother always says “there are three different types of people in the world: those that watch what happens, those that make it happen, but by and large there are those who wonder what happened.” I cannot imagine how horribly frightened you must have been. This wasn’t a cop. We already know the deal about 5-0. This was just a man without a badge or uniform. All he had was hate, entitlement and a gun. And isn’t that all they’ve ever needed in their attempts to sabotage, crush and extinguish Black life especially that of Black boys and men? They may not be using ropes, but lynching is still happening today, everywhere.
So for you, Trayvon, I will stand. I will not run. If every Tom, Dick and George thinks they can stalk and prey on young boys and girls without so much as a stop and frisk or arrest, then at the very least I can do is stand and face them eye-to-eye. For you. For me. For my niece. For my neighbor’s son. For my future children.
I know you didn’t get the kind of national recognition and honor at your funeral that you so rightly deserved. So in lieu of a 21-gun salute, theHotness is celebrating your life with a 17-hoodie pictorial salute—one photo of someone wearing a hoodie for each year you had breath. It’s our virtual lighters-in-the-air tribute to your bravery and your life. It’s also a symbol of our solidarity and dedication to getting justice for you, young soldier. Rest in power and in peace knowing we got you now!
MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN
BRIAN DEKA PAUPAW