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Philosophical Meanderings

Educating Trayvon Martin

Diptic
As an educator, I feel that I must speak out on the outrageous injustice regarding the Trayvon Martin case. As you probably already know, Trayvon Martin is a 17-year-old African-American high school student who was accosted and shot dead by a self-appointed “neighborhood watchman” while walking home in his neighborhood. This happened a month ago, and to date, the killer has not been charged with any crime, as he claimed he was acting in “self-defense”, although there is no evidence to support this claim.

Thinking about this situation has brought up many feelings for me not only as a teacher, but also as a mother, wife, sister, niece and daughter. I am confused, angry, disappointed, outraged, discouraged, and hurt to think that someone can kill a child on the street, not go to jail, and then “pundits” can try to justify the killing for reasons like “he was wearing a hoodie” (in the rain).

I stand for justice for Trayvon, not because he was a “good kid”, as has been brought up many times in the media. In my opinion, that’s neither here nor there. Even if Trayvon had just been released from jail, he still has a right to live! There is NO evidence that he posed a threat to anyone, so why is no one being held accountable for his murder?

I think this is a very relevant issue for educators, because we must be aware of the type of society we are preparing our students for. How can I encourage the young black men who walk into my classroom to do their best and look to the future if they know full well that they can be shot down in cold blood by someone and nothing will be done about it?

All of the changes that we make to our education system in an effort to close the achievement gap mean absolutely nothing if our students are not safe in their own country. How can we trust a government that would allow this to happen to a black boy to fix an education system that has failed so many of them? No matter how this situation ends, it is a sad reminder that we have a lot more work to do to make our country a place where EVERYONE has a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

I know that I will be talking to my kids about why it is so important to vote, be politically involved and to watch how their lawmakers react to situations like this. I also want them to know that soon it will be THEIR responsibility to create the society they want to live in–it’s not a spectator sport.

What will you say to your students about this?

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About Tinashe Blanchet

Tinashe Blanchet (@mrsblanchetnet) is a math teacher at John Ehret High School in Marrero, Louisiana. She is a passionate ed-blogger who loves learning about how to enhance her practice with tech tools, as she maintains a “Model Technology Classroom” for her district. Please visit her online at http://mrsblanchet.net or http://blanchetblog.net to find out more!

Discussion

8 thoughts on “Educating Trayvon Martin

  1. As I visit schools, I have been surprised by the complete absence of discussion regarding this incident. The teachers aren’t talking about it with the students but they also aren’t talking about it in the staff lounge. It is essentially absent – thus pushing the conversation away into a place of nice, respectful dialogue that merely allows the culture of fear to continue.

    Posted by John T. Spencer | March 23, 2012, 9:07 pm
  2. All the way over in Bahrain ;) in my little bubble, I hadn’t read about this. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. It is absolutely horrifying. And even more horrifying if, as John T. Spencer says above, nobody is talking about it and life is just going on. I will pray for justice for Trayvon Martin.

    Posted by homeschoolingpenny | March 24, 2012, 1:12 am
  3. This is important to discuss; we will surely talk about Trayvon this week.

    I’ve read the Mother Jones explainer piece a few times. In addition to the dismay I feel about Trayvon’s death and the condolences I have for his family and friends, I’m also horrified that Florida and 17 other states have essentially codified the Wild West into “stand your ground” laws that encourage preemption based on presumption as a winning legal defense.

    Thank you for this post,
    C

    Posted by Chad Sansing | March 24, 2012, 7:41 am
  4. Tinashe,

    I did not mention anything here because I am not a teacher, am ‘of color’ and wanted to see who, if anyone here, would take a bite of this toxic apple. I think the silence has simple roots — raising the issue of color in a “post-racial” society scares the bejeebers out of a fair number of individuals, especially since US demographics are shifting…

    Trayvon was a black kid who, by walking in a “white” neighborhood, violated the us/them borderline. Michael Skolnik, a “white” guy, knows this (http://globalgrind.com/news/michael-skolnik-trayvon-martin-george-zimmerman-race-sanford-florida-photos-pictures ).

    I live in an historically “white” neighborhood that has remained primarly white. Despite (or because of) my age and occupational experiences, I am particularly aware of what I wear and how I “act” while walking about. Perhaps I am overly sensitive, but I live in the hometown of the United Northern and Southern Knights of the KKK and in a county where general Concealed Weapons permits are doled out like candy, maybe I am being sensible. Rights? I’m not sure that I or anyone who “looks different” has ever had them… not really… not when one’s body is a ‘dead giveaway’ to where they belong.

    If Trayvon, believing Mr. Zimmerman was following him and was “suspicious” had shot and killed him, I’m sure the discussion would be much different from the deafening silence.

    Best,
    Brent

    Posted by Brent Snavely | March 24, 2012, 7:43 am
    • Evidence is apparently coming out that Zimmerman was beaten down before he shot Martin. I say let the case be investigated and let the facts come out before all the outrage begins. If the facts show that Zimmerman is guilty, let him go to jail or be executed.

      Posted by Chris | March 25, 2012, 11:20 am
      • Evidence has already come out that Zimmerman followed Martin after being advised by the police to abandon his “mission”. If Trayvon fought for his life, does that make his killing justified?

        Posted by Tinashe Blanchet | March 25, 2012, 11:59 am
      • Chris,

        I appreciate letting the process unearth what it will, but as an ex-cop who refrained from discharging my firearm on “justifiable” occassions must say that were I to be followed and then (apparently) accosted by a stranger who outweighed me by a goodly amount, even today I would have little compunction about taking steps to defend myself.

        I think the emphasis of a “Neighborhood Watch” should be on the second word. From experience I know that merely carrying a firearm skews one’s mindset about actions one can/cannot undertake in a safe and reasonable manner.

        Best,
        Brent

        Posted by Brent Snavely | March 25, 2012, 12:39 pm
  5. Has everyone seen this interview with Chris Lehmann, at Science Leadership Academy, about educators’ talking with their kids about Trayvon?

    Thank you Tinashe.

    Posted by Kirsten Olson | March 28, 2012, 1:21 pm

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