Why You Should Care About Trayvon Martin

As a television news producer, I write stories about murder and other crimes that are so heinous they make you recoil in horror. Sadly, you have to develop a thick skin in this business and not let it affect you to the point where you can't function. However, the death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin hurts me deeply. In case you haven't read about it, Martin was shot and killed on February 26th by a neighborhood watch captain in a gated community outside of Orlando, Florida.

At this point, the shooter, George Zimmerman, has not been arrested nor charged with anything. He claims he fired in self-defense. The recent release of the 911 calls in this case has brought about more questions in this case, particularly why Zimmerman, who was in his SUV, got out of it to approach Martin when the 911 dispatcher specifically told Zimmerman not to do so. Also, there are questions about the cries heard on one of the 911 calls. Zimmerman claims it was him - but was it Martin? As a family grieves the loss of a son, this case is a reminder of  the ongoing issue of race in America (let's be real - this is not a post-racial America).

Many black men are familiar with the phrase "driving while black." My younger brother knows it all too well. He told me how he was stopped for some unknown reason, forced to get out of his vehicle, then forced to watch as police rifled through his car. The officer even opened the bag containing a burger he had purchased and checked out the food. I was surprised that my brother wasn't reeling. Sadly, he felt that's how things worked for black men and that it would happen to him sooner or later. On the other hand, I had a former co-worker who was deeply traumatized by a police stop. He had a gun pointed at him and was physically searched because officers thought he fit the description of a suspect they were looking for at the time. I can't put into words the pain in his voice and the pained expression on his face as he recounted that fateful night. Then there's the story from a friend of mine who was stopped by police for no particular reason. He happened to be driving a nice Dodge Charger. I'll never forget the shock and pain in his voice as he described his experience. I felt so helpless when he was telling me the story. I was at a loss at what to do to try to ease his frustration, anger and sadness.

That brings me back to Trayvon Martin's case. What can we do to ease the sadness, shock, anger, frustration and other emotions being experienced by Martin's family? Yes, we can rally, raise our voices and push for a thorough investigation into this case. Sadly, will it be enough? We're aware of other cases that resulted in the deaths of innocent black men. We're aware that justice wasn't served in some of those cases. I'm sure there are many more cases that we haven't heard about because some people took the attitude of that's just how it is...and there's nothing to do about it. Will there come a time when I don't have to hear another brother or another male friend tell me about an unnecessary police stop? Will there come a time when I don't feel helpless because I know it will continue? My prayers go out to Martin's family and to all of the men who have dealt with this...but are fortunate enough to live to talk about it. Martin's case reminds me that this could have easily been a case where my brother, my friends...or someone you know could have been the victim. I'll continue to follow this case and pray that questions are answered and that justice is served.

Brenda Carden

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