author: annie trussler | op-ed editor
Happy birthday, Trayvon Martin.
On February 5, 2018, Trayvon Martin was supposed to be 23 years old. Instead, his name has become a monument for the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement. Instead, his family mourns him another year because George Zimmerman acted on racist rage, and nothing more. Instead of thriving as a 23-year-old should, Trayvon Martin is a memory because he chose to wear a hoodie at night.
I remember watching the George Zimmerman trial and seething with rage – a child, a young black child, was killed simply for choosing to exist where a racist deemed it inconvenient. Every year, as this day passes, the seedy underbelly of social media whispers that somehow Trayvon’s death was his fault, and that somehow his death is anything short of a heart-wrenching tragedy.
I am not in a position to discuss the injustice against black lives in the modern era – I am white, and I could not possibly speak from a place of experience or understanding, so I decided to go a different way with this article:
Happy birthday, Trayvon.
You may not be able to see it, but you caused waves. There are people all over the world fighting for justice – justice for you – and we are closer to winning than ever before. There are confederate statues being destroyed, rallies being held, and injustices being called to attention and charged for what they are.
I remember your family describing you to the news: you were kind, gentle, well spoken, and a good friend. You are everything a young man hopes to be, and I don’t think words can do justice as to how proud of you we all are.
The murder of children has been made acceptable through white supremacy, and Trayvon’s case was the first to prove that. As an outside perspective, can you genuinely and morally say that Trayvon somehow deserved his premature end? His only crime is wearing a hoodie late at night, and still, that is enough for people to ignore horrific injustice where it exists.
I remember seeing a picture of you in an airplane hangar, Trayvon – I remember thinking how excited you looked to be in your element, and how heartbreaking it is that you will never be there again.
Your murder will never be anything short of a crime against compassion, human kindness, and life. Racism has taken more lives than anyone can count, but at least its victims finally have names, and faces, and justice that can be chased. At least now violent racists are shamed, criminalized, and hidden from society. Anyone who murders a child in good conscience is more of a “thug” than any black child could ever be.
So, happy birthday, Trayvon. Rest in power.