Five years ago Sunday Trayvon Martin was stalked and killed in his own neighborhood. Trayvon’s death began a shift in social justice and the powerful movements like Black Lives Matter began. Since Trayvon’s death we no longer wait for several days to hear about an unjust killing of one of our youth. This push of social media notifies us immediately and then action begins to let everyone know of the injustice. Although, these types of killings have been happening since Columbus rediscovered this land, Social media lets the world know what communities of color have known for centuries.Unfortunately, many have died similar to Trayvon in the past half decade and every killing is made up of the same anatomy.
It begins with a killing. An injustice is carried out and the life of a person of color is extinguished. The word of the injustice spreads like a high contagious disease across social media. The news media picks up the story and we hear about the perpetrators and the victim and immediately their roles are reversed. The reports begin to flood in about the criminal background of the victim. We hear about their past drug charges or their history and schedule of child support payments and how much they have or have not paid. We hear about driving infractions, children they may have, how many and with how many partners. The victim becomes the accused and through these reports subtly a story is crafted to justify why they were killed.
If there is video of the incident those responsible for the killing hold press conferences and they tell us over and over what we are seeing isn’t what we are seeing. We are told there is more video that we can’t see or that we don’t know what occurred prior to the video. Sometimes the perpetrator is put on paid administration leave while the incident is investigated. During the press conference we NEVER hear remorse or an apology, or we never hear anyone taking responsibility. The investigation begins with explanations as to why the victim may be the perpetrators which give us no reassurance that justice will be found. Instead it appears the investigation will concentrate on how to justify a killing instead of searching for the truth.
Soon after the protests are organized and begin. Intersections are blocked; police suit up in riot gear and Black Lives Matter demands justice. A large majority of marches are peaceful and respectful but there is always someone involved NOT associated with BLM who start to throw things or burn property and all eyes draw to the one march that turned violent. Then it is assumed BLM is the one calling for the violence and many begin to associate violence with BLM which is the opposite of reality.
So the victim becomes the guilty and the peaceful become the violent and out of tragedy a vat of salt is poured into an ugly wound and no peace, no resolution and no justice ever come.
So I wait for the next incident to occur and know that the above script will be followed to the letter. I’m prepared to scream at the TV when the press conference begins and tell them to start with an apology; show some remorse. I want to hand them a script that reads, “Yesterday an unfortunate incident occurred and as a result a young life was taken. We are still investigating what all happened but we want to let you know that whatever happened we regret that a life was taken in an interaction that involved one of our employees. We also want to say how sorry we are that the ______ family has lost a member of their family long before they should have. Once we know more we will let you know and our goal is to get to the truth of what happened.”
When the protests start I am prepared to scream at those not associated with BLM to stay at home. I want hand them a note that reads, “The protest is designed to draw attention to this tragic situation. To honor the victim we will assemble peacefully. If you can’t commit to that we need you to stay at home.”
When the investigation begins my screaming continues. “Please follow the evidence and search for the truth. Don’t be distracted by industry loyalty. Please remember there was a life that was taken at the hands of your employee.”
My hope is if my screaming is heard we stop operating in a bizarre world where everything gets turned upside down and backwards and with that comes peace, resolution and justice.