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?