I haven’t yet found my way to talk about Trayvon Martin, haven’t been able to articulate all the things my heart is saying, all the ways this story is so painful and so familiar. Nothing I say will be new or newsworthy. Nothing I say will hold back the next bullet that will take the next black child’s life. And knowing that is part of what holds my tongue, makes finding a post in all this frustration and pain that much harder.
So this isn’t my post about Trayvon Martin. I don’t know if that one will get written.
This is my post about how not at all surprised I am that the Sanford police think it’s important for us to know that Trayvon was suspended from school because traces of marijuana were found in his book bag. Because, you know, that makes shooting him okay, makes that killing justifiable, makes us understand the threat he posed on that dark street.
This isn’t news, this victim-blaming. The guilty often point out the “criminality” of the innocent black men they shoot in order to help us understand why those men had it coming. And, too, marijuana is notorious for turning people into violent thugs, and traces of marijuana are the worst. Yes we all know that.
Not surprised but entirely disgusted.
Zimmerman says he was heading to his car when Trayvon punched him in the face and began beating him. Let’s pretend for a moment that that’s true. Just for a moment. You have a gun. Someone comes at you with his fists and you can only manage to save yourself by killing him? Really? You couldn’t shoot him in the foot, the leg, the shoulder … anywhere that wouldn’t have left him dead on the ground? Really? Okay, let’s stop pretending. It’s nauseating.
When I first heard about Trayvon’s death, I thought of Rage Against the Machine’s painful lyrics:
Three brothers gone
Doesn’t that make it three in a row?
Three million gone
Don’t you know they’re counting backwards to zero?
I have to stop. Twice in that same song (“Freedom,” in case you’re wondering), Zack de la Rocha whispers: “Anger is a gift.” And I believe that. But I still have to stop. This anger, right now, is like a poison. I know how badly it affects me. Not that I don’t want or need to feel this, but I don’t necessarily need to keep spitting it at you.