The Trayvon Martin Blues
April 15, 2012
By Adam Weatherall
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The sound of two hands clapping and Mr. Son House’s eerie words engulf me as I sit dumbfounded in front of my computer screen. A beverage mixed with bad intentions dances between the ice cubes in my glass. I toss it past my teeth, down my throat and directly at my brain. I desire to quell mental fire currently burning uncontrollably from my frontal lobe to my cerebral cortex. This is an inferno which is steeped by ignorant words on both sides of a debate that never should have been argued in the first place. This particular argument, so muddled and wrapped in the lineage of a proud American South with a “dark secret”, has a way of making even the abstainers seem a guilty party. Simply stated “I got the Blues”. Mr. House’s haunting words guide me like a lighthouse in the midst of a foggy night as I wonder down my own blues highway. As I continue my journey I discover the true source of my despair. It all started February 28th 2 days after his murder I read my A.P update and I pondered if the nation would awaken to this news, Its clear to me that I have the Trayvon Martin Blues.
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Simply stated Trayvon Martin was a 17 year old boy who was born and raised in Florida, but in much more complicated terms Trayvon Martin was an awakening in a national black community that happens every ten years or so. Names like Rodney King and to a lesser extent Oscar Grant might help jog the memory somewhat. What was different about then and now is for the first time in history the presidency is held by an African American man. So it would seem that at least America at large has put to bed some of the more archaic racial notions that have historically plagued our nation. What with Slavery and Jim Crow and all that bother which members of the Texas state senate are working hard to pull out of our children’s school books. But the most depressing point about this current uprising in black dissatisfaction with an unfair status quo is that very little has changed since Rodney King or Oscar Grant or for that matter Barrack Obama. But I’m not adding another brick to the pile both the left and the right have tossed upon President Obama’s back. He’s already got the economy, healthcare, and apparently the general happiness of the American populace up there as well. No, I’m a realist and being that I “realized” that ultimately it’s the judicial and local state level where drastic changes must take place in order to come to some sort of modicum of equality. Trayvon Martin was something of a needle in a media haystack of similar stories and instances currently sweeping the nation, its selection seemingly a matter of luck of the draw.
What’s saddest here is that we know names like Trayvon Martin’s in part because of the circumstances of the case, and in a much larger part because the media lottery selected it. Which begs the question of how many other young African American males were killed under similar conditions, all affected by the same thought process. That black men are a threat. Where this notion stems from I am not exactly sure, however I can definitely attest to its existence. You see I come from the same racial background as our president in that I am half black, half white. This being so I am often times afforded a unique perspective on race relations. For example if I am sporting a polo shirt and khaki’s and you were to see me at a cocktail party you might not even bat an eye when someone let the random racist black guy joke slip. Yet on a cold day while brandishing a hoodie and beanie unshaven I am pulled over without impunity by my local LAPD only to be asked “what gang am I from”. There was a time I was more naive about the current state of race in our union before entry into the real world. I was schooled at predominately white schools in very liberal areas of Southern California therefore in my mind the nation itself would reflect this somewhat hippie-esque veil of community that exists in Los Angeles. It wasn’t until I traveled, and wrote and unfortunately lived in Oakland that I saw the true spectrum of hatred that still is allowed to flourish in some bastions and dark crevices of America. It wasn’t until we started writing at PowerFist.Us about race relations specifically that I really became disturbed. Our mission at powerfist.us was and is to bring a voice to the voiceless to refuse to let stories like Trayvon Martin simply be filed into statistics without first giving a chance to be heard. My problem was there was to much to write about, and to many homicides and unanswered violence and not enough eager ears willing to listen.
Disturbed, depressed, and disgruntled I fall deeper and deeper into “The Trayvon Martin Blues” as I am swept undertow by the sure wave of police brutality and unarmed black male homicides and the even larger number of unanswered deaths of young black men because of laws like the Stand Your Ground law. A law which is so vague in its implementation it could allow a man like the accused Mr. Zimmerman to shoot a minor found only with a bag of candy and a beverage in his possession dead, and then that night sleep in his own bed still in possession of the gun used to perform the murder. While he slept, Trayvon Martin’s parents were searching the neighborhood for their son unaware of his tragic fate. And as “Death Letter” comes to its midpoint and so does my drink, I wish to conclude my thought process before my record skips. A law like the stand your ground law which states that “a person may use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat, without an obligation to retreat first”, because we live in a nation where a young black man in a hoodie is considered a reasonable threat … at least to some. This is yet another strike against a sub group of a minority that metaphorically speaking have always had targets on their backs. Now the Zimmerman case will be a public viewing as to whether or not we as a nation will continue legally supporting the repainting of that target on young black youths and other “suspicious” subgroups, right here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Trayvon Martin was killed on February 26 2012, since that time I have witnessed the media world wind from the hate filled speculation of the right to the over jubilance of the left both of which served only to muddle the issue. The issue was that Zimmerman had not been arrested, that’s why the protest happened and that’s why there were people out in the streets. Without the previously mentioned uprising as well as helpful words by key political figures like those from the P.O.T.U.S that were certainly the major factors that ultimately led to a federal investigation. But if it were not for the gory details of this particular case which fed so well to the soapbox nature of the media surrounding it we might never have heard or cared of the fate of Trayvon Martin. But what now? Are we to hold a rally tomorrow and the day after that, for the next tragic death in an endless stream of injustice? Or, should we rather demand a change now in our local corrupt judicial system and a repeal to laws that might be racially biased. I believe it’s the latter. And as Mr. House’s echoes clear off into the night and I’m left with the sound of two hands clapping, and an empty glass.
I resolve here and now and before the record begins to skip and I am surrounded by the gentle hum of metallic strings to continue my journey down this blues highway until I see some evidence of justice in this great big melting pot we call America. Hopefully as I continue down my path some justice might be found along the way for names like Stokley and Franklin, Oscar Grant and maybe even Trayvon Martin.