When I heard about the murder of Trayvon Martin I felt like everything just stopped for a moment.
I’m talking about a real halt for a serious moment…a stretching out of time through which everything ached bone deep.
There is still much to learn about the murder of Trayvon Martin, but what we know now is hauntingly close to the nightmare that has been my companion for as long as I can remember.
That nightmare that makes the women in my family advise any and all young black people about to leave the house on how to act…what to do if the police harass or a security guard follows…how to respond if confronted for driving while black or walking while black or shopping while black or having fun while black or going to school while black or seeking medical treatment while black or voting while black or dating while black or for just being black.
The nightmare that is followed by the reality that those cautions don’t matter…that this isn’t about “earning it” or “deserving it” or “asking for it”.
This is about murder.
Murder…that wakes me up in the middle of the night wondering if my older autistic brother made it through his day without someone thinking he’s a threat because he acts “weird” and then assaulting or killing him.
Murder…that makes mothers watch out the window, following children until they leave sight as if their mother’s gaze alone has the power to protect them from violence inspired by ignorance, fear, and hate.
Murder…that puts that look in a person’s eye, a look holding the expectation that justice will be denied along with the glow that is a commitment to see someone held accountable, even though closure is for writers of television dramas.
Murder is the reality behind that caution women in my family give…before they watch loved ones walk out the door, eyes following until they leave sight as if a loving gaze alone can prevent someone from becoming another murder victim.
But instead, the cautions don’t matter…not really…because this isn’t about earning it or deserving it or asking for it.
This is about murder.
And when I heard about this murder…the murder of Trayvon Martin…it seemed as if everything stopped for a moment.
A real halt for a serious moment, stretching into time until all of me ached bone deep.
Then the moment was over and things started up again, but not the same.
Things are not the same, now that the serious moment between the time before and the time that follows has ended.
Because this is about murder.
And this nightmare is real.