Why Trayvon Matters

There are folks in our society who are scratching their heads and asking themselves, “Whats’ the big deal? Why are we seeing this huge uproar over Trayvon Martin?” These folks do have sympathy for Trayvon and his family, but they just don’t understand. Trayvon was about what happened in Sanford, Florida when a young, unarmed Black man was shot by another young man who was part of some sort of neighborhood watch program. Now, it has changed into more than simply the facts of this case. It is about the Black/minority community in America. Many Americans feel like America isn’t about them. They work hard and continually get beaten down by life. Many of us believe that America just needs Blacks and minorities for cheap labor. If we get shot and die, that’s okay just as long as the work gets done and there is no interruption in services.

A young Hispanic man, Alan Gomez, was shot out in New Mexico by police. The official investigation clears the officer. (The young man was unarmed.) The police officer was given $500 for grief counseling. The family believes it was a bounty. I don’t know what it was. All I know is that young minorities in our society get shot at an alarmingly high rate and there seems to be no consequence. I know that justice doesn’t seem to be as color-blind or fair when she is dealing with minorities in our country.

I/ve spent a great deal of time over the last two weeks talking about race. I dug thru data and polished up my Excel graphing skills to show that minorities continue to be left behind. It isn’t because we aren’t working hard. We are. It because the system just doesn’t seem to work for us.

Charles Blow, one of my favorite writers, interviewed Trayvon’s mother and grandmother over the weekend. He reports a few things that the MSM has overlooked. Trayvon seemed to be doing everything right. (One of my commenters asked about Trayvon being afiliated with the Bloods. Nope. He was not. I think that these kind of questions just get us off track, and then the fingerpointing, chest bumping and shouting begins. We need to stay on track. We need to stay focused on this tragedy. It is about a young Black man who was doing nothing wrong and was killed by someone who thought he was Kojak.)  He was working hard in and out of school. He was staying out of trouble. He had put his life on the right path, only to be gunned down for no good reason. This is the tragedy of Trayvon. In spite of trying to do the “right” thing and playing by the rules, he ended up shot dead. Trayvon truly represents the frustration of a community that isn’t getting ahead and isn’t enjoying even a small piece of the American pie.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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