If I Had a Son

Step out of your comfort zone and stand up for Trayvon Martin

If you think we live in a post-racial society, look at the flood of hateful comments found by blogger Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs below a March 19 Fox News article on the Department of Justice investigation into the Feb. 26 killing of Trayvon Martin. The last comment Johnson quotes will suffice: “GOOD SHOT ZIMMY. lol.”

The president of the United States took a different tack on March 23: “When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. … If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

With these simple words, praised by Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic as “a stunning exercise in political minimalism,” President Obama touched the chord of parental anxiety at the heart of the tragedy in which wannabe cop George Zimmerman, armed with a 9 mm handgun, pursued and fatally shot the 17-year-old Martin, who was armed with a bag of Skittles, a can of iced tea and a cellphone.

Coates described the Wild West logic of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law on March 22: “The logic incentivizes an armed citizenry where the beneficiary of justice is simply the last man standing. Your side of the story is irrelevant if you are dead.”

At a March 23 prayer vigil on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Southeast D.C. organized by the National Black United Front, we chanted Marcus Garvey’s motto, “One God, One Aim, One Destiny!” A Muslim minister read from the Nation of Islam’s newspaper, The Final Call. Archbishop George Stallings of Imani Temple led a call-and-response: “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” We were told to raise our black fists; I smiled and took part.

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