A TALE OF TWO PRINCES
As the world celebrates the arrival of Kate and William’s little prince….George Alexander Louis, we often forget about the countless number of young princesses and princes that are born each day. I’m thinking about one such prince that was born 17 years ago…..His mother called him “Travyon Benjamin Martin” during the trial of the man that ended his young life.
Can you imagine Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin as they awaited the birth of their beautiful baby boy on the fifth of February, seventeen years ago? Can you imagine Sybrina’s final push that released his small, infant body from the safety of her womb?
I’m certain they listened with relief as he gasped for his first breath, followed by a cry that announced that he had arrived on this earth. Imagine the relief, the joy, the heightened excitement as she caught sight of her beautiful brown baby for the first time; examining his ten beautiful fingers and ten beautiful toes. Tracing his lips that resembled her own, stroking his soft brown cheeks that were Tracy’s cheeks. Looking at his strong brown body.So many milestones awaited… the first day of school…birthdays…big games…graduations. I can imagine the first day of Kindergarten and Sybrina moisturizing the same fingers and toes that she counted at birth…I wonder if she knew that she was preparing his beautiful brown flesh for a bullet to his heart in 2012?
Fast Forward…to July 2013, It’s Day 9 of a trial to convict their son’s killer of second degree murder. This time they hear their son cry…not in a hospital room, nor over a hurt finger or even a first love. This time they hear the audio of Trayvon screaming for his life on the night of February 26, 2012. His beautiful brown skin is described in the coldest, harshest terms by the City Medical Examiner. The clinical term “Unremarkable” appears 21 times in Trayvon Benjamin Martin’s autopsy report.
As Trayvon Martin’s 17 year old body was autopsied, the Medical Examiner noted “…The face is UNREMARKABLE…the nasal cavity is UNREMARKABLE…The ears are UNREMARKABLE…The left and right diaphragms are in their normal location and appear GROSSLY UNREMARKABLE…the larnyx has UNREMARKABLE vocal cords…” I have to stop here! There are too many ‘UNREMARKABLEs’.
Now, I know in medical terms, as a patient, you want to hear the word “unremarkable”. It means that everything is “routine” and “nothing unusual”, but the irony of the word is not lost in this tragic series of events. The dicitionary definition of “unremarkable” is “lacking distinction; ordinary” Another meaning says “not worthy of note or attention”. A life so devalued…so dehumanized…so easily taken…In some strange way, the killing of another black or brown youth reminds me of Billie Holiday’s haunting lyrics, “Strange Fruit” ; a song about racial atrocities in the deep south… “Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze, Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees….”
I wonder if Trayvon’s parents thought that he was “UNREMARKABLE” as they celebrated his first birthday? His first steps or his first words? Did they know just how “unremarkable” Trayvon’s life would be to the American Justice System? So “unremarkable” that the Sanford (Florida) Police Department failed to arrest and charge George Zimmerman for six weeks after his death. So “unremarkable” that authorities failed to conduct a thorough homicide investigation. So “unremarkable” that the Seminole County (Florida) court system acquitted his killer. The same justice system that almost returned the very gun that pierced this young man’s heart, as well as the heart of his parents, his community, and his nation.
Future Forward. Trayvon Benjamin Martin’s life is remarkable though. His life was so remarkable that throngs of supporters marched in protest of what they judged to be a travesty of justice. So remarkable that legislators may propose a Trayvon Martin Act to amend Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law. So Remarkable that hundreds, maybe thousands of young people known as the “Dream Defenders” have camped outside of the Florida Governor’s office demanding a special session to review the “Stand Your Ground Law”. His life was so remarkable that his father and mother have created the Trayvon Martin Foundation to prevent other black and brown youth from being senselessly murdered. Trayvon’s life was so remarkable that many activists, entertainers, and ordinary citizens are refusing to hold events in Florida, vacation in Florida and otherwise spend their hard-earned money in Florida until the Stand Your Ground laws are reexamined. REMARKABLE!