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    « The 2014 Latina Agenda: 275 Board Seats or Bust | Main | What is the GOP Code Word for America? »
    Tuesday
    Jul162013

    Calm Reflection

     

     There is no greater sorrow to be felt than for a parent to bury their child.  There are those parents who do so at the end of a long battle with their child fighting a disease and those who learn their child has died in an accident.  There is no comfort, no closure.  There is only a daily struggle to endure the loss that interrupts the day ever so unexpectedly at the site of a picture, a toy, a small memento of what once was—life.

    The death of a child at the hands of a stranger—a chance encounter that goes terribly wrong because of ignorance or arrogance, bias or stereotypes feels much harder to accept.  When Trayvon Martin’s death surfaced in the national headlines, there seemed to be a collective cry of disbelief,  “Haven’t we seen enough of this? Haven’t we made any progress in race relations?”  It was the right response and it forced upon the nation a trial that may have resulted in what some would call a sound legal finding but surely no justice.  We felt that outcry because Trayvon Martin’s murder was not typical.  He was not dealing dope on the street corner. He was not a drop out. He was not part of a gang. He had no police record.  He was a teenager with all the potential of living a strong and productive life.  Yet as a black male, he drew the biased attention of one person who assumed he was up to no good.   A fight ensued.  One gun shot. One life.

    If we are to dignify the short life of Trayvon Martin, I do not feel it is worth looking further at his murderer or whether the jurors debated enough. Instead, let’s call attention to gun violence and the grief of so many other families losing their young black sons.  The Pew Research Center reported that just in 2010 alone there were 31,672 deaths due to firearms and one third of these (11,078) were homicides and of those—55% were homicides of blacks.   Of these victims, 85% were black men between the ages of 18 and 40. And even harder to accept, 94% of the black victims were killed by other blacks.  Regardless of the challenges that may surround some communities—racism, joblessness, poverty—it is the availability and opportunity to use guns that changes everything with tragic consequences.

    We will never resolve the circumstances surrounding Trayvon Martin’s death.  One thing is clear: Had there been no gun involved in the conflict with his murderer, they would both be alive. We can overcome the outrage of Trayvon’s death with the right debate about access to guns, the pervasiveness of profiling and bias.  We owe it to him and we owe to his parents to at least do that.

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