Young harpist Brandee Young composed the piece “He Has A Name” (Awareness) in an effort to bring attention.
On a very personal note, I learned of the Trayvon Martin case through the website globalgrind.com where they give an identity to murder victims by citing, “He has a name…” It takes a piece of my heart every time I sign online and see the words “He has a name…” because I know there has been yet another act of violence.
As social media reported the Trayvon Martin case, it became a continual reminder of the state that America is still in and the work that still needs to be done.
My heart and prayers go out to Tracy Martin and Sabrina Fulton, Trayvon’s parents. It’s not the natural progression of life to see your child go before you especially under such tragic circumstances.
For me, having a teenage brother who appears not unlike Trayvon, I can’t help but be fearful that he will be judged unfairly, based on stereotypes and appearance.
I have followed Trayvon’s case closely and I think any compassionate human being can relate to Trayvon as a brother or son and would want to see a thorough investigation into the killing of an unarmed person. In my portrait I wanted to emphasize Trayvon’s humanity as well as the public outcry for a just investigation into his death.
What do I say to you, man-child, or for you, that has not already been said? I’ve tried writing this letter to you several times, and several times the words would not come. There have been tears in their place, or immense anger, and a painfully heavy kind of sorrow. Or some debilitating element of fear, if I can be vulnerable and real with you. Fear that I might say the wrong thing, or somehow offend you, your family, or someone who may not agree with my views of our society.
But this is not a time to be afraid, Trayvon. We are past that now, and we know that being afraid to speak and do is the same as creating your own prison, and being stuck there forever. These times are demanding courage, vision, love, and the determination to make sure your death is not in vain. For in writing this letter to you I am also writing it to myself, to America, to all of us, and asking myself, all of us, our America, to be truthful, in a way we have not been previously, about who we are.
by Judge Lynn Toler, current host ofDivorce Court.
When I talked to my 16-year-old son recently about Trayvon Martin, I did not discuss the nuances of information about the case I didn’t have. As a judge, I know you can’t make judgments based on newscasts; you have to have the facts. The legal case at the heart of this story is truly a matter for the courts.
But in my home I am not a judge; I am a mother with two black sons to raise. As such, Trayvon’s death was not a distant tragedy or a legal abstraction, but the springboard for another lesson on what I call The Asterisk Rule.
The Asterisk Rule is a guideline I created for my sons. It says that because you are black, an asterisk accompanies your every action. It says that you are less likely to get the benefit of the doubt. It says that if you falter, the powers that be will more likely see criminality than youthful indiscretion. As a result you have to be more careful, less cavalier and be prepared for harsher judgment in everything you do.
The Asterisk Rule contradicts everything I believe in as a jurist. It stands in direct opposition to the great pride I have in a country whose president, had he been born 150 years ago, would have been a slave. In fact, the rule is a loathsome thing, but as a mother I have an obligation to share it with my sons.
I raised it again not too long ago, after an incident that I believe speaks to the everyday experiences of blacks in America, and may help explain why blacks and whites feel so differently about this case.