I am still angry that Trayvon Martin’s murderer is a free man. I know many of you are still reeling, too, and that you share my sense of despair and helplessness. Every time I see George Zimmerman’s defense team, Mark O’Mara and Don West, give another interview and brazenly suggest that it is Zimmerman who is the victim, Zimmerman who is in danger, Zimmerman who was unfairly racially targeted, I alternate between wanting to throw something at the tv and wanting to summon all my evangelical roots to call down the fire and brimstone of an Old Testament God who smites our enemies.
Every word they speak is another move in a historically scripted, finely choreographed, racist dance on Trayvon Martin’s grave. And their comrades are right at their sides in the graveyard shoveling dirt over the freshly dug graves of the Voting Rights Act, Affirmative Action, Native Sovereignty, Abortion Rights, and Immigration Reform.
I seriously do not know how our ancestors endured this shit.
It is clear that these white boys have been upset with the way this thing has been going for a while now. And when they looked back, they located the source of the problem in the mid-twentieth century, when Americans more courageous (or more opportunistic) than they decided to “give us” our rights.
But the god of white supremacy giveth, and he (most definitely a HE) taketh away.
Here we were thinking that fifty years out, we’d be in a season of commemoration, not evisceration.
As the utter folly of such thinking dawns on us, perhaps in an earth-shattering sort of way as it did on Saturday night, scores of Black women felt a visceral need to find and hold on tightly to the Black men in their lives that they love, partners, sons, brothers, nephews, cousins, friends.
I, too, felt an almost primal urge to do the same. And yet, even as I felt the need to do so, a sense of alarm started to rise somewhere in the far reaches of my mind. It was the same sense of alarm that I felt back in April 2012 at the height of the campaign to arrest George Zimmerman. I wrote:
“How do we make it so that our choice to stand up for Trayvon and acknowledge the injustices perpetrated in his name doesn’t set Black feminist organizing back three decades, by reinforcing notions about Black men being an endangered species, particularly since in this moment, it feels in some ways, like they are?”
I know it may seem selfish for sisters to even suggest that our struggles matter in this moment. But if the treatment of Rachel Jeantel, Trayvon Martin’s friend, has taught us anything, it is that we are in this shit together. Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, has been an exemplar of Strong Black Womanhood throughout this ordeal. What other choice did she have? But while many folks may admire her strength and resolve, We Black feminists know that those regal robes of superwomanhood are much too heavy a load.
We need a world with far better choices and chances than these. And we cannot afford to become yet again invested in the fiction that Black men’s struggles are harder than ours, more urgent, or more worthy of attention. We, Black people, are far more visionary than that.
Even so, political energy is finite. Stakes is high. And everybody needs to be taken care of. Black women included. That is why it is so important that we get it right. The time may not be right. It never is. But the time is now. So even as Black women prepare to do what they do best, move into care mode, and brothers prepare to do what they do best, and accept that care, this post is a gentle reminder, that the Black freedom struggle cannot, yet again, be built on the backs of Black women.
Feel free to use our comments section to vent. But keep it respectful. And loving if possible. We are all in pain, and we all deserve a little gentleness here. And trolls will be blocked. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
To aid us on the way, here’s a mix entitled “elegy (for extraordinary black boys and girls)” from CF Jalylah in honor of Trayvon, and Aiyana Jones, and Rekia Boyd and Hadiya Pendleton and all the other Black boys and girls gone far too soon.