The tragic and outrageous killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a Neighborhood Watch leader in Florida because he looked “suspicious” has become national news. Martin was unarmed, carrying snacks from a local convenience store, dressed like many teenagers dress: in a hoodie. What made him suspicious seems to be that he was black. George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch leader, has not been charged with a crime because he says he was acting in self-defense, despite the mounting evidence showing Martin was not a threat at all.
“The case has resonated for many who say Martin died because of stereotypes of young black men as violent criminals. The shooting is already being compared with high-profile and historic civil rights cases — for instance, a doctored photograph has circulated throughout many social media sites that compares Martin to Emmett Till, a young man lynched by white men in 1950s Mississippi.
“It’s not about these individual acts of racism,” said Mark Neal, a professor of African and African American Studies at Duke University. “It’s about the way that black males are framed in the larger culture … as being violent, criminal and threats to safety and property.”
The tragic case played out in Sanford, population 54,000, about 30 minutes north of Orlando, when Martin left his father’s home to buy candy and iced tea for his little brother at a nearby 7-Eleven…
The fatal shooting touched a chord of community outrage in Sanford on Tuesday night. The killing was “a senseless murder as far as we are concerned,” Seminole County NAACP President Clayton Turner told a capacity crowd at the start of a town-hall-style meeting at Allen Chapel AME Church.
Clayton said the Sanford city manager and mayor were unable to attend because they had been “summoned” to Washington by Attorney General Eric Holder.
“The line has been drawn in the sand,” Clayton said. “We as people of color are going to stand our ground. We are going to do it in a non-violent way, and we are going to prevail.”
Before his son’s death, Tracy Martin warned son Trayvon that being a black man in America could be dangerous.
“I’ve always let him know we as African Americans get stereotyped,” Tracy Martin told USA TODAY. “I told him that society is cruel.”
As I often say and write, people are harassed – and killed – on the streets for all kinds of reasons: racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, xenophobia, ablism, and sexism. And too often they are harassed for a combination of those reasons. Martin’s death is a very, very sad example of the racial harassment and profiling that still occurs.
While this site focuses on harassment motivated by gender, that harassment does not happen in isolation. The issues are complex and often inter-related. And the streets should be safe for everyone.
If you’re on twitter, join the Women’s Media Center #SheParty chat today, 3-5 p.m. EST. Martin’s death, racial profiling, harassment of men of color by police and how these topics intersect with gender-based street harassment will be one of the topics of conversation.Share on Facebook