About Trayvon…

Editorial Image from NYTimes Article

There has been a lot of images that have been created as a result of the tragic death of teenager Trayvon Martin. I haven’t seen them all but of those I have seen I think the above image may be my favorite. I love that the image is faceless and bodiless. As much as the tragedy is about this particular boys life, Trayvon has come to symbolize something much larger than himself. Trayvon has become a stand in for every young black male who has and continues to shoulder the burden of blackness in this country. The burden of being a target.

I’ve read countless articles about “the talk” many black mothers give their sons about how to avoid being harassed and accused of crime. I know what its like personally to be followed by police as a teenager for walking in a white neighborhood with a group of black friends. Racism is alive and well. And as a general rule, even the most conservative, “stop making excuses and pull yourself up by the bootstrap type” black folks get it. And yet somehow it seems like a large percentage of white folks, even some of the super liberal, “my parents marched with MLK” white folks, don’t. And I think thats what makes discussions about race so uncomfortable. People have trouble openly discussing what they don’t (and often don’t want to) understand.

So, as much as I love the above image I couldn’t help but think about why it was chosen as a stand in for Trayvon in this editorial featured in the NYTimes. I couldn’t help but think that perhaps its facelessness and bodilessness allows the reader to universalize the subject in a way that focuses on the tragedy of a child being killed rather, allowing for distance to be established from the racial implications of the event. The idea that Trayvon could be anyones child is easier to swallow than the idea that blacks, and black men in particular are targeted by police and society as a whole. While I still prefer the original image I see why images like the one below might be necessary. I find it incendiary and overly simplistic, but as I learn about teaching strategies, I’m starting to think that perhaps this is where we need to start, with the crude and stark.  And then maybe.. just maybe… we can get people to recognize the subtlety and complexity inherent to the implications of these events…

A Tale Of Two Hoodies - Michael D’Antuono.


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