I Killed Travon Martin

     I haven’t said a peep about the Travon Martin case and now it’s time to share my very small piece of mind. My fourteen year old recently started jogging around the neighborhood – at 6 a.m. in the morning.  Being the protective mother I am, I accompany him - on a bicycle. This morning, as we started on our way, he on foot and me closely behind on wheels, I began to pray for him as I always do. He’s such an inspiration and such an unusual young man, my prayer is to support him and be the mother he needs to help him accomplish the extraordinary goals he has set for his life. While praying, I noticed he was wearing a hoodie. It was a hoodie his father and I purchased for him from Belks. It’s a nice jacket and if it had not been on sale, it would still be on the rack or on someone else’s back. At the very moment I noticed my son’s hoodie, was the very first time I ever gave the Travon Martin case any serious thought. 

What happened to Travon Martin happens more frequently than we care to imagine, but Travon’s case, as puzzling as it is,  is touching hearts and homes across the world. My son’s hoodie wasn’t the first thing I noticed while he ran, I was mainly concerned for his safety at 6 a.m. in the morning – not as a young black boy, but as a young man falling prey to predators; his hoodie was an afterthought. Why on Earth, does the hoodie hold so much power?  Why does the hoodie hold so many stereotypes when all ages, genders, and colors, wear them? I too, had on a jacket with a hoodie, although the hoodie wasn’t on my head.

My 6 a.m. jogger
It wasn’t the hoodie that killed Travon Martin, it was the stereotype in Zimmerman’s mind that killed young Travon. We all have stereotypes secretly tucked away in our minds where no one can see them. I have my own set of stereotypes and if you’re a truthful person, you’d admit you have a few secret stereotypes also.  I did not shoot and kill Travon Martin, but I have mentally murdered many other Travon Martins with my stereotyped opinions and narrow- minded views. You have killed some Travon Martins also with your own prejudice beliefs and pompous observations. If you think you haven’t killed, you’re in denial of your own mental misdemeanors. The elderly is a prime example of the unspoken prejudice thoughts we entertain. The elderly are victims of injustice merely because of their age; talk about stereotypes! We don’t care anything about them – they’re old! The elderly are forgotten in a world they built.

All it takes is one personal experience for our hidden racism to be unveiled. Whatever Zimmerman’s personal experience was with young black men wearing hoodies, it was nurtured in his mind for so long, he couldn’t help himself when he made his impulsive 911 call. What hasty calls or actions are you guilty of?

As my son continued to run, I noticed the hoodie was no longer on his head. When we returned to the house, 30 minutes later, I asked him why he took his hoodie off. He said it just fell off his head while he was running. Wouldn’t it be nice if our hoodies of racism, stereotypes, and prejudices fell off? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could remove the portion of our brain creating illusions and prejudging people? A part of us won't allow us to see individuals as…individuals. Wouldn’t it be nice to just be you?   

If I allowed my son to run alone, I wonder if he would be looked at strangely or if other early morning walkers would be cautious of their own safety? He’s a sweet boy and would do anything to protect you, but because he was wearing a hoodie and running outside at an ungodly time of the morning, he made himself a target in the minds of many of the neighbors who have no idea who he is. So, before you point the finger at Zimmerman or anyone else for an unjust act, check yourself. Take your hoodie off before you judge someone else’s hoodie. Think about your thoughts of others and don’t be so quick to mentally or physically kill another Travon Martin.