10 years after Trayvon, Black Lives Matter is still more a question than a fact

It’s a club no one wants to join, yet there’s no shortage of members. In fact, there were almost too many to count before the advent of...


It’s a club no one wants to join, yet there’s no shortage of members. In fact, there were almost too many to count before the advent of cell phones and hashtags. But for every Emmett Till or Rodney King, thousands aren’t as well known. Certainly not as well known as Trayvon Martina 17-year-old black teenager who 10 years ago on Saturday was walking home from a convenience store when he was confronted and killed by Georges Zimmermana white Hispanic man who doubled as a failing aspiring police officer and an aspiring vigilante.

Trayvon joined a long list of black women, men and children lost to senseless violence after being targeted for their race – but in 2012 America was a very different landscape than just a few years earlier. The first black president was fighting for his second term, the 24/7 media machine was becoming increasingly polarized and politicized, and social media was so pervasive that the court of public opinion could weigh happily on the dignity of black people in real time.

Trayvon was among the first black deaths from racial violence to become a trending topic on Twitter. Since then, there have been so many men, women and children who have died and become hashtags that I can list the names like a fourth grader practicing for a capitals test. ‘State.

Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. Philando Castille. Ahmad Arbery.

When the crime is being black in the wrong place, it becomes all too easy to wonder who’s next. Someone I know? Someone I love? Me?

Violence between whites and blacks was not invented in the age of social media, but it could be said to be the foundation of our nation. Four hundred years ago, white European settlers realized that after eradicating the indigenous peoples of the so-called “New World”, they could ship off African peoples and make them work for free. It’s been a violent cycle ever since.

And like all cycles, it took a toll.

A study 2018 found that black people reported poor mental health within three months of a police shooting.

There are the recriminations on cable news and on Twitter. There are the fights around the Thanksgiving dinner table, the speculation, the memes and the trolling. (During the grand jury hearing for Darren Wilson, someone tweeted me a photo that purportedly was of Michael Brown with a gun, like that was supposed to prove something. I thought the second amendment was holy?)

What does marinating in an endless cycle of violence against black people do to the brain? What has a decade of this toxic anti-Blackness soup done to us?

“Clearly, discrimination matters for health,” said David R. Williams, a professor of public health at Harvard University and one of the authors of the 2018 study. said in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. “And it’s not just what happens in the big things, like workplace discrimination or interactions with the police. But there are daily indignities that erode the well-being of people of color. »

A view of the Trayvon Martin mural at the Trayvon Martin mural unveiling on August 21, 2018 in New York City.
A view of the Trayvon Martin mural at the Trayvon Martin mural unveiling on August 21, 2018 in New York City.

Ben Gabbe via Getty Images

The idea that black people have suffered collective trauma is nothing new, and hasn’t even been prompted by the advent of the internet. But in recent years, with the propensity for videos to go viral and the ability of everyone from neighbor to President of the United States to broadcast their opinion across the world, the last 10 years have seemed like a new phase of the problem.

“I’m 18 now and I still carry the weight and trauma of what I witnessed a year ago. It’s a little easier now, but I’m not who I was anymore.” , said Darnella Frazer, the teenager who filmed the murder of George Floyd. noted on the first anniversary of the murder.

It feels like the violence against black people and the resulting barrage of media coverage is endless. As the nation and the people of Minneapolis awaited the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, Kim Potter, a white police officer, shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright in the nearby suburb of Brooklyn Center. Even when people needed a break from police brutality, the silence of reprieve is interrupted by thoughts of next, because there is always another on the horizon.

If you’re not paying close attention, it’s easy to miss the number of trials and convictions that have been handed down over the past few weeks. Kim Potter was sentenced to two years for the murder of Daunte Wright. The three other police officers involved in the death of George Floyd have been convicted of violating Floyd’s rights. The three white men who hunted down and murdered Ahmaud Arbery have been found guilty of federal hate crimes. The trials pile up. The dead are piling up. Violence, it all weighs down on us, collapsing like the proverbial heavy load Langston Hughes once spoke of when asking what happens to a postponed dream.

In one NPR interview Last year, psychotherapist April Preston described this type of trauma not as a simple, one-time thing, but as a complex trauma that encompasses multiple events often compounded by not being believed.

It doesn’t help that a large swath of the country justifies killing a black man. They shouldn’t have tried to defend themselves. Or maybe they should have just obeyed the police. Never mind that “not to comply” has become their rallying cry to oppose reasonable public health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not only is the threat of violence always around the corner, but the feeling that millions of people will say it’s your own fault is very important. It’s been 10 years since Trayvon was killed on his way home from a convenience store, launching the Black Lives Matter movement and ushering in a new era of activism. Since then, countless other black people have been killed by violence. And that is perhaps the most traumatic part of all – the unshakeable sense of dread knowing it will happen again.



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Newsrust - US Top News: 10 years after Trayvon, Black Lives Matter is still more a question than a fact
10 years after Trayvon, Black Lives Matter is still more a question than a fact
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