Post by Lyndsey R. Ellis, a St. Louis native who lives and writes in Oakland, California.
You’re a baby-faced 17-year-old talking to your sweetheart on the way back from the neighborhood convenience store. You have your brother’s favorite snacks, a bag of Skittles and an Iced Tea, jammed deep into your pockets. You’re excited to return to your father’s house and catch the rest of the NBA basketball game. A hoodie covers your head to shield you from the rain that falls over Sanford, a cozy suburb in Orlando, Florida.
You spot a man watching you. He appears to be on a cell phone as he steps out of his truck and marches your way. You’re surprised, disoriented, a little afraid.
You tell your girlfriend through the headset that’s fastened on your ear. She orders you to run, but you refuse and decide to walk faster instead. Your heartbeat quickens with every step and blood rushes to your face as you head in the opposite direction.
He’s gaining on you. His footsteps cloud your thoughts as you break into a sprint. You hear his high-pitched voice over your shoulders, but you aren’t yet able to make out his words.
It’s becoming too much. You turn towards your aggressor and confront him. The man keeps walking and responds, asking what’s your business in this area.
His hands are on you. Your hands are on him. The headset connecting you to your girlfriend falls away as you two crash to the wet ground.
In the midst of the commotion, you see a growing cluster of people–children, women, men, the elderly–step out from the comfort of their homes. They’re witnessing the scuffle between you and the man. They seem just as confused as you are, grabbing for answers in the tangle of grunts and moans that eventually escalate to screams.
The confusion you feel wears off, replaced by a helpless rage, an abominable fear. You and the man dig into each other as you become covered with sweat, mud, and soggy grass blades. There’s blood, but you’re not certain about who it’s coming from.
A glint of metal between the man’s fingers freezes you. The Earth stands still as your mind runs a million different places. Your mouth opens and closes and opens and closes, and your body is weak from the exertion, although you don’t hear yourself, not your own distinguishable peep in the mess of this struggle.
There’s a loud clap. You fold against your will and meet the pavement with your back. Droplets of rain slam into your eyes. The sky seems endless and takes your breath into its clouded bosom. Then, silence.
This probably doesn’t amount to half of what young Trayvon Martin experienced on the fateful night of Februry 26th, 2012. Even after his death, the screams still live, but this time, they come from the throats of angry, hurting people all over the country who are committed to seeing justice prevail for the teenager’s family.
The household names of Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea takes on a novel, dark meaning as national outrage brings back memories of Oscar Grant and Troy Davis, among other black men who’ve fallen victim to a miscarriage of justice. However, there’s a new, ugly twist. Absent is the police badge and the typical majority who thinks Martin should take some responsibility for the incident.
This time, most fingers are pointing the blame at George Zimmerman, the Hispanic neighborhood watchman who shot and killed Martin. Despite his claim that he used the gun in self-defense, a series of testimonies, ongoing investigations and chilling 911 tapes that lead most people to label Zimmerman as the aggressor, rather than the victim.
As new details emerge daily, the wrongful death of a young man remains at the heart of the matter. Those deeply affected by the news–churches, celebrities, civil rights organizations and typical citizens alike–are voicing their fury in protests, wearing black to public mourn Martin, and continuously questioning the actions of the Sanford Police Department, all while Zimmerman remains a free man.
The way things stand now don’t align with the notion of justice that America promotes. What it does is peel back yet another scab from the wounds of hyprocrisy and oppression that many black citizens have needlessly died for.
Don’t be fooled into thinking we’ve completely overcome the struggle. The fight against injustice remains at the forefront of this country’s problems. Simply put, it’s the same issue with a different face and a new series of circumstances. Let’s try to put an end to this pattern with love and unity.