I have been there, done that. I have done my dirt, I am no saint, especially when I was much younger. I have minded my own business, walked home like any other day, and had trouble find me before I got there. I have had guns pointed at me, gangs stalk me, bottles thrown at me, for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, even though I was on a public street or a public place.
The difference is that I am still alive. I got to see adulthood. I got the chance to become a father, to watch my own child grow up to become her own adult. I got the chance to serve my country and to go to college. I got a chance to live my life.
I taste bile in the back of my throat when I hear people suggest “he probably deserved it.”
Let’s be real. The only difference between Trayvon Martin and Chan Zilla is that you guys got the chance to get to know me. That’s it. If the trigger was ever pulled, if the bottles ever broke, if I ever took a plea deal, I would not be here, right now. There have been too many random chances to put me in a coffin or in a cell. Dumb luck or my own stupidity could have changed so much about my life experience. Dumb luck or his own stupidity ended Trayvon’s.
How different would the world be, had some punk named Red didn’t live long enough to become Malcolm X? What if Saul never survived the road to Damascus? What if O’Shea Jackson didn’t find an outlet in hip-hop? Or if Marshall Mathers never escaped the black hole of Eight Mile? What if Richard Pryor didn’t survive his embattered youth?
Life was/is/will be a hard knock for many. We are Trayvon Martin. Not because we are black. But because we are judged by stereotypes.
Just imagine all the young souls that we lost along the way. How many future Dr Kings have bled to death in the streets? How many future Barrack Obamas have been trapped in prisons instead of freed by college? How many Rosa Parks have been snuffed out by domestic violence? How many future Oprahs never graduated high school?
A young man was walking home from the store, minding his own business, who attracted the ire of a stranger who couldn’t just leave him alone. Of all the things Trayvon was or wasn’t in his life, that night, he was just a young man walking home from the store. Of all the things George Zimmerman was or wasn’t in his life, that night, he couldn’t leave a young kid walking down his street alone.
Anything you can say, good or bad, about Trayvon, could be easily said about a young Chanzilla. Because it’s been said. To my face, behind my back, on police records and report cards. As Dr King taught us to say, I Am Somebody. So was Trayvon.