Your Black Son: What He Needs to Know about the Zimmerman Acquittal

The President Sees Himself in You

Last year after Martin’s death, President Barack Obama said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” You are living and walking in the image and the light of the President of the United States. President Obama sees himself in you, and if you ever wavered about what is expected of you, and what you can become, just remember what the President thinks when he sees black boys like yourself: his own self.

Keep in mind the President made that remark in an election year—a risky gesture. He could have simply offered condolences to the Martin family and encouraged folks to let the legal process unfold, but he inserted himself and his identity right into the fray, during a time when he was attempting to run a post-racial campaign.

During a recent press conference, President Obama again tried to make your path a bit easier by shedding light on the world from a young black man’s experience. As more and more people see the world from your point of view, and the unnecessary mechanisms put in place to police boys like yourself, these narratives will chip away at society’s perception of black men.

Exercise Compassion for Others

It might be easy to label Zimmerman and all of his supporters as ahistorical people (some of them are) who can’t connect the dots between the systemic criminalization of black men and the current state of black men. But in an effort to teach you compassion, I’m going to ask you for a millisecond to imagine if you were a white person in America. Everyone—even whites—who lives and operates within a racist system falls victim to its trappings.  Whites are socialized to perceive blacks in a certain manner. In fact, we all perceive people of other racial groups in a unique way, and studies have shown that people of all races pay more attention to what makes people of other races different, more so than what makes them similar to ourselves. I’m not telling you to let Zimmerman’s actions off the hook—he was wrong in several ways the night he killed Trayvon Martin—but in order to dignify your differences with someone, and help them come to a more righteous understanding, it is important to learn to empathize with them in order to see things from their perspective. That way, it might be easier to get them to tweak their lens.

The ‘Trayvon Martin’ Movement Was All For You

People rallied and protested and marched and tweeted and screamed and cried and drafted legislation largely so that boys who look like you will not suffer the same fate as Trayvon Martin. Vigilantes with hero complexes, an unhealthy perception of black men and an itchy trigger-finger will hopefully think twice about mistreating you, lest they face the wrath that Defense Attorney Mark O’mara said Zimmerman faced in the past 16 months.

The Justice Department is looking at the case to assess whether they’ll bring civil rights charges again Zimmerman. Attorney General Eric Holder described how the trial conjured up a conversation he thought he’d never have to have with his son. Hillary Clinton expressed deep sympathy for Trayvon’s parents. Nothing is in vein and everything happens in its own perfect time.

This country cares about you and so do I.

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