This morning when I awoke and read that George Zimmerman had been found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin I was stunned. And I decided to tell my daughter about his murder, even though she’s only 5. Even though we live in liberal, happy-go-lucky Austin, Texas. I’d been wondering when I would need to start this conversation with her, about racist acts. And suddenly, I knew. The time was right.
I wasn’t so surprised about the verdict. After all, it is Florida. (Yes I know that’s offensive, I don’t give a shit. I’m fucking pissed! Plus, I live in Texas, I hear that shit about us all the time, and you know what? They’re right.)
And after all, you know, he’s a black male so he must’ve been doing SOMETHING wrong walking around a white neighborhood. (That’s sarcasm, in case there’s a troll reading.)
As I got up and wandered into the kitchen with my squeaky 5-year-old, a child with brown skin and curly black hair. A beautiful child. An innocent child. A child that was once Trayvon Martin.
I looked at her and I didn’t so much as think, but I began to feel fear. I knew within a millisecond before I opened my mouth that I was going to start down a treacherous path with her. One that needs to start now. Because if I wait, she might not know enough in time to save her life.
I am not being dramatic. (That’s also for the trolls.) That’s the worst part of this conversation.
So, I said to her as we prepared to make banana pancakes, “Baby, I’m a little sad this morning.”
“Why mama?” as she colors in her coloring book.
So I began to tell her. I told her that a man who murdered a boy named Trayvon Martin was on trial. I told her that he got away with murdering Trayvon.
“Trayvon Martin had brown skin like you, baby. And he was walking in the dark, alone, and he was wearing a hoodie, you know a jacket with a hood? And this man thought he looked suspicious. Do you know what suspicious means? (Explain the meaning of suspicious, move on.) So this man picked a fight with Trayvon Martin and then he shot him in the chest with a gun. And Trayvon Martin died.”
I choked up a little as I spoke to her, surprising even myself. I am not a very openly emotional person. But as I sat down next to her, she put her arms around me and said, “Don’t worry mama, that won’t happen to me.”
God. She gets it. She fucking gets it! She cut right to the chase.
It was downright chilling.
I wondered immediately and even during the moment if I was doing the right thing by telling her about Trayvon’s murder.
I went on to tell her that I didn’t want her to worry. And that part of the reason he was killed was because he was alone and in the dark. He’s older than you, 17. And I also told her that he should have run.
He should have run.
I wish we didn’t live in a world where we need to tell our brown skinned children that they can’t stay and fight. But that they must run.
Run away. You have brown skin. Run. Away.