The recent outrage over the tragic death of Trayvon Martin has been felt throughout this nation. As millions of citizens rally together to demand justice for the young teenager and his family, other supporters have flocked by the masses in their own communities continuing to show their support. Even athletes and entertainers are showing their support in this fight for civil rights. Below is an open letter written by Jamal Smith (contributing writer for WHMGTV) to Trayvon Martin. Let us all continue the fight for equality and justice in our community and our nation.
To my young brotha Trayvon:
As I sit here with a heavy heart to draft this letter to you, I continue to think how I could have been you. You are resting with our eternal father simply because of the pigment in your skin. I want to let you know that your tragic death has sparked a movement, the Million Hoodie Movement. We all heard your last words and cries for help. Trayvon, we are going to help and we aren’t going to stop until we get the help you were begging for.
Just as news of your death and the subsequent injustices that have proceeded, I found out that my pregnant wife and I were expecting a baby boy. Now not only do I look at your situation as a black man, I look at it as a soon to be father of a black baby boy. I know that you could have been me, my brother, my cousin, or my friend. I know that you could have been any black child in America. The emotion of your death is just too real. You didn’t fit the “criteria”. You weren’t out on the corner selling drugs, it wasn’t two o’clock in the morning, and you didn’t have a criminal past. You were just being you, a 17 year old black kid living in Sanford, FL with a bright future ahead of you. Now we can speculate as to what that future would have been.
It’s incomprehensible to think that a rogue animal with a gun was able to prey on you, hunt you down and murder you in cold blood. As if that wasn’t tragic enough, the handling of your case has exhibited the fact that the lives of black men are not taken seriously in the criminal justice or should I say criminal injustice system. This animal, George Zimmerman is still on the street. I took to Twitter and asked the following question: I need an example of an unarmed white person being killed by a black person and no charges being filed. Police or civilian. No one could provide me with an answer. In fact, many white people Tweeted me saying things like, “Good luck finding that” and “If you find one, please Retweet it”. How sad is that? That forced me to Google the question. Google prompted me just one answer that fit my search criteria before I was back to unarmed black men shot by police. That unscientific study is sad, but very telling. Your death will inspire us to work overtime to correct the continued injustices in this country. You are a victim of a hate crime and we will fight to ensure George Zimmerman is prosecuted for that.
I took this personal for other reasons too. Several years ago I was stopped by a store security guard and accused of shoplifting. I became very angry and upset because I immediately knew I was targeted because of the color of my skin. After the store security guard realized he made a mistake, this of course after the police were called and after I was embarrassed in a public place, the store manager decided to try and calm the situation. The manager told me that they were having a problem with young black men entering the store and stealing and that’s probably why the security guard was suspicious of me. That didn’t make me feel any better. I look at that situation today and say what if that security guard were George Zimmerman? I would not have had the opportunity to live my life and do some of things I’ve done simply because of my darker skin. We are at risk every day.
You didn’t have the chance I had. You were executed because of your dark skin by a man who thought you looked suspicious. What made you suspicious, darker skin and a hoodie, a uniform that I and many other black men often wear. This man was determined
Trayvon trust me when I say, we will not allow your death to be in vain. In fact, if you could see Facebook and Twitter pages, everyone is rocking the hoodie and #Justice4Trayvon. We will look at you as a martyr for justice for all of us men with darker skin. This fight will not only be for you, but it’ll be for Sean Bell, The Jena 6, Amodou Diallo, Oscar Grant and unfortunately many others.
My brotha, rest easy, we’re In The Hood for you man. I’m sipping an iced tea and eating a bag of Skittles for you. Justice will prevail.
Sending this with love,
T. Jamal Smith