Trayvon Martin Has Forced Me to Face My Biggest Fear as the Mother of an African American Boy

little boyGeorge Zimmerman's trial may be over, but the wounds left in its wake are still here. What has happened is especially painful to think about as a parent of an African American boy. It's unbelievable that someone can just walk away scot-free after killing a young, unarmed teen. Shocking. Chilling. Heartbreaking. Though, more so than the not guilty verdict itself is what the conclusion of this trial tells the world. Perhaps no one put it better than Trayvon Martin's own mother.

Speaking out for the first time, Sybrina Fulton told NBC's Today:

Sending a terrible message to other little black and brown boys -- that you can't walk fast, you can't walk slow. So what do they do? I mean, how do you get home without people knowing or either assuming that you're doing something wrong? Trayvon wasn't doing anything wrong.

More from The Stir: Trayvon Martin's Mom Forced to Listen to Her Son Dying in Court (VIDEOS)

It really is a frightening reality that few of us know how to prepare our children for. So what are we parents to do? My husband and I have given this a lot of thought in recent days. As soon as our son, now 5, is a few years older, we will have to tell him that there are times he will be judged unfairly because of the way he looks. That because he is black, his life could be put in danger even if he has done nothing wrong. We don't want to terrify him, but we can't have him walking around blind to the realities of this world. Just the thought of this conversation overwhelms me with sadness. 

But let's be honest here. It's not just wannabe vigilantes like George Zimmerman that pose a threat. Police profiling certainly can play a dangerous part too. There have been numerous cases of cops stopping or harassing black men who turn out to be innocent of any wrongdoing. When I was growing up and even today, friends and family members called it, "Driving while black." It's the notion that because of your skin color, you are more likely to be pulled over. It happens to everyone -- doctors, lawyers, even politicians of color. Years ago, a family friend and his son were stopped by police and beaten so badly he was hospitalized for days. It was a case of mistaken identity.

Reportedly, Lavar Burton takes his hat off and says "Sir" whenever he is pulled over by the cops. But is this capitulation for the sake of survival really fair? Of course not. I have a hard time accepting that I should have to teach my son to treat a racist with reverence just so that he may live. That is just infuriating. That whole concept is just infuriating.

It's incredible to me that we are still asking the world to judge people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. Martin Luther King, Jr. must be rolling over in his grave. We have come so far in many ways, but are still far behind in ones that matter. This just feels like a game we cannot win. I am raising my child to be a hardworking, educated, ethical human being. Sadly, that just won't be what some will see.

What will you tell your children about what happened to Trayvon Martin?


Image via T. Ron Scott/Flickr

behavior, issues, safety


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redK8... redK8blueSt8

I think that people are judged far more by how they're dressed and how they behave than the color of their skin.

A 17 year old 6'3" guy wearing a hoodie concealing his face is going to be seen as more threatening than a 17 year old 6'3" guy wearing those suite and tie combos like the Mormon missionaries wear, regardless of the color of their skin. A man size body, darting in between houses, covering his identity, in a neighborhood that had recently been burglarized several times would throw up the suspicious flag on ANYBODY.

names... namestaken

Sure, you could have that talk, if your into over dramatics...If your into realism or statistics, you could warn him about other black men. 94% of blacks are murdered by other blacks. They are dispaportionally represented in drop out rates, drug use, unmarried births and in general being a burden on society.. That is the true tragedy.

LadyM... LadyMinni

Congratulations on having no idea what the Zimmerman trial was about. How about this, you teach your son that turning around and attacking someone is wrong. Regardless of whether or not they're following you, regardless of what they may or may not be saying, if you attack them they have the right to fight back. Teach your son that.

TMK919 TMK919

It's easy. Tell him not to bash someone's head against the ground, and he won't get shot IN SELF DEFENSE. GZ was judged by a jury of his peers, and found innocent. Deal with it. It had NOTHING to do with race!! Jesus. Oh and when pulled over, who doesn't take off their hat and call police officers Sir or Ma'am?? This white girl does. It's called respect!!

bills... billsfan1104

Again, another stir writer that did not watch the trial nor read the transcripts or hear the forensic evidence. Trayvon was not innocent. He attacked Zimmerman. Forensic evidence supports that. And as far as teaching your "black" child to respect police, I teach my girls that too because that is what you are suppose to do. You are not to give police lip.

Did you know that it 92% of black people murdered are murdered by their own race??? I hope you teach you son to watch out for his own race too

bills... billsfan1104

Also teach your son not to be a daddy early too and knock up a woman an then leave the baby's mother. Because 70% of births in the black community are done to single black mothers.

Katha... Katharine205

Are you f-ing kidding me?  The kid was shot because he attacked the guy, not because he was black. 

Paws84 Paws84

Damn. Agree with everyone except the writer lol nice

Caera Caera

Don't worry Ericka. Just tell your boy not to slam anyone's head into the sidewalk, or bloody their nose, and he should be fine!

Oh, well, don't let him be a thug, either.


nonmember avatar haileysmom

I agree with the writer. At least some people are understanding , I'm white but growing up around black people my whole life I've seen it with my own eyes. the people who commented are niave an judgementle themselves obviously

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