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Remembering out loud

“He shot an unarmed kid” was the first comment I heard regarding the murder of Trayvon Martin. It was a discussion between two people at a neighborhood bar. It was actually 2 days after the shooting and I had no idea what they were talking about. Then I looked up at the television and saw the news story. I remember thinking, “Why had there been no arrest so far? Why was this man still walking free?”

As the days passed and more of the story unfolded, I found myself with many, many more questions. As I looked at the remembrances in my newsfeed on Sunday, February 26, I had to ask myself, “What progress have we made?”

I, unfortunately, think we are more divided than ever on issues of race, crime, gender equality and a host of other issues. There was a time when the shooting death of an unarmed person, especially a child, would first raise the question “How could this happen,” as opposed to “Why was he in that neighborhood?”

I know that Trayvon was not the first African-American youth to be shot; but his murder seemed to propel a movement. Everything about his murder was wrong. The crime itself. The delay in arrest. THE DEFENSE. It seemed unconscionable that anyone could defend this. And yet, they found a way. This is the first time that I can remember a case that appeared to be so cut and dry and still got the results that it did.

With the acquittal of his killer (whose name I do not speak) the value of African-American male lives appeared to mean nothing. For the first time in my adult life, I was MAD. Sure there had been anger over the years when I felt there was injustice. But this time was different. Maybe because I was a mother, a sister, and a cousin to African-American children. I felt the pain of loss. I felt I needed to speak up; do something. And since then, I have.

I am not silent in the face of injustice. I am not silent in the face of racism, sexism, homophobia. I will not allow the deaths of Trayvon, Michael, Eric, Tamir, Sandra and the countless others be in vain. On this the 5th anniversary of your death, Trayvon Martin, I remember, I mourn and I speak out for you.

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