The first information that I heard about Trayvon Martin was a friend posting an appeal for people to send a bag of Skittles to the Sanford Police Chief. I didn’t get it. What would skittles and iced tea have to do with murder? Of course the reality is, they don’t have anything to do with it. Skittles and iced tea are not murder weapons, are not items of aggression, have nothing to do with death or violence or hatred. At least not until February 26th, when 17 year old Trayvon Martin was carrying simply Skittles and an iced tea when he was shot and killed because he was seen as “threatening.”
Now, if you do a Google image search for “skittles and iced tea,” there was one picture of skittles and iced tea, but every one around it for the next several pages is a picture of Trayvon Martin. It seems skittles, iced tea, and senseless murder have now become synonymous.
When I was in high school we read a book called, “The Things They Carried,” about soldiers in Vietnam. Throughout the book, various soldiers are described through talking about the things they carried. Some were tangible things, good luck charms, weapons, M&Ms; others were intangible such as guilt and fear. Though I don’t remember a lot of specifics about this book at this point, I remember the way you really could learn a lot about the character of a person by what they carried with them.
February 26th, Trayvon Martin was carrying skittles and iced tea, George Zimmerman was carrying a handgun. Which would you say is more threatening?
And yet, Trayvon was killed. George chased Trayvon down, knocked him to the ground, and shot him. And George is still not being held for any crime because he says he was acting out of “self defense.” And why did George feel threatened? Because Trayvon was a 17 year old teenage wearing a hoodie, because he was walking around at night, but mostly because he was black.
To say that this is unjust is a great understatement. And as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” And so, as I sit here over a thousand miles away, what can I do about this? What can we do about this?
First, we must seek the truth of the situation. This list of facts about helped me to better understand the depth of this terrible tragedy.
Second, we must fight for justice. I’d ask you to join me in signing this petition to be delivered to the U.S. Attorney General. We fight for justice not for the sake of vengeance, but for the safety of all people who are victims of racial prejudice.
Third, we must bring stories like this to the light, exposing the horrors of racial prejudice so that we as a nation can confront the terrible disparities that are still very present in our nation.
I ask that you join me in prayer for healing, peace, and justice for the Martin family, the community of Sanford, FL, and all those who daily experience the fear of being feared.