Years before the killing of Trayvon Martin grabbed the nation’s attention, the teen’s father warned him that his race could make him a target of violence.
The advice Tracy Martin gave his black son, that people veiled by racism and prejudices might see him as suspicious or violent, is a common and continuous warning in many black families, parents and experts say. In the aftermath of Trayvon’s death, more families are having “the talk,” teaching sons to be aware of their race, avoid confrontations with authority figures, and to remain calm in situations even if their rights are violated.
“I’ve always let him know we as African Americans get stereotyped,” Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father told USA TODAY three weeks after his son’s death. “I told him that society is cruel.”
Trayvon, 17, was shot and killed on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., as he was returning to a gated community after buying candy at a nearby store. The gunman, George Zimmerman, whose father is white and mother is Hispanic, now faces a charge of second-degree murder.
Trayvon was “profiled” by Zimmerman, who “falsely assumed (Trayvon) was going to commit a crime” as the teen was trying to get back to the home of his father’s girlfriend, according to public filings by Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey. The documents portray Zimmerman as the aggressor throughout the incident, remarking to police at one point that people like Trayvon were “punks” causing trouble in his neighborhood.
After spotting Trayvon, Zimmerman called 911, got out of his vehicle, and followed the teen. Zimmerman then “disregarded the police dispatcher” and chased Trayvon as he was trying to return home, the records say.
Trayvon’s family and their supporters maintain that Zimmerman deemed Trayvon “suspicious” because the teen was black and wearing a hoodie.
Zimmerman could face life in prison if convicted. He maintains he shot the youth in self-defense after he was attacked.
The killing sparked dozens of rallies across the country, largely fueled by the belief of many that the case is the tip of the iceberg of a glaring problem of racial injustice in the USA.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: USA Today