None of us have the right to pretend to the mantle of grief that Trayvon’s family feels.

I am going to repeat that throughout this post until the end, when I will say the other half of that thought.

I know I keep saying this, but I am almost caught up. Now, I am just behind in this week’s deadlines (except for one honking project that just keeps growing). Part of the problem is I have overlapping workshops and a mid week (today) collision of work, teaching, volunteering and attempting to have a life. So, I made up my mind to try and shift the volunteering to a different day.  But I still have to go today.

I don’t know if you have been paying attention to all the news surrounding the murder of Trayvon Martin down in Florida, but it is an intensely sad, difficult and complex situation. Unfortunately, the media has made a (what else?) circus of it by playing into our fears across the board of home invasion, crime, racial profiling, racial stereotypes and so on. Now, there is a push on for a 1,000,000 “Hoodie March” in NYC to highlight what happened.

First off, New York City? How does this make sense? On a root level, Trayvon was killed because Florida is the only state with a law that declares that if you feel (believe) you are under threat (you don’t have to actually be, just feel it in the air) you have the right to use deadly force as a means of pre-emptive self-defense. Then, the law goes on to stipulate that the powers that be cannot investigate the person claiming the self-defense, they have to prove that the “attacker” was attacking. It is a subtle wording that means that it is illegal for investigators to question someone’s claim of self-defense. The only thing they can do is try to work it from the end of proving whether or not the attacker, attacked. That means there can be no arrest of Zimmerman, no interrogation, no real investigation of him – people claiming self-defense under this law are granted immunity.

All of this does nothing to comfort Trayvon’s family.

All of this does nothing to undo the fact that he is dead.

But why is he dead? Why did George Zimmerman feel justified in taking his life?

And why…have the rest of us run away with our assumptions rather than make an effort to be present in the reality of this horror. People are running around spouting unfounded interpretations and beliefs about how and why all this happened under the delusion, the DELUSION, that this will somehow be supportive and comforting to Trayvon’s family.

None of us have the right to pretend to the mantle of grief that Trayvon’s family feels.

I have read anti-Semitic remarks about Zimmerman. I have read the “racial profiling” remarks. I have read a bit of everything, but few people are talking in the context of facts.

The hardest thing about all this is all we have are facts and there are few of those.

People are talking about how what is going on with the call for the marches etc is starting a conversation, but it isn’t. Everyone has retreated behind the fairytales they believe in to make their life bearable. People get just as much out of expecting to be oppressed as do people who expect to do the pre-emptive oppressing.

Racism is institutionalized in the country in every aspect of society. It is ok, in this country, to believe that someone is more prone to be less than because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, religion, nationality, political beliefs or physical state. When something as horrific happens as it did with Trayvon, we don’t face facts and start the difficult dialogue of change – we form a fairytale family with the victim (and who that is depends on who you identify with) and say, “this happens more to us than anyone else, fix us first and then, maybe we can deal with what happens to you.”

That is a Band-Aid approach that will never let a wound heal.

None of us have the right to pretend to the mantle of grief that Trayvon’s family feels.

One comment that really summed up it said, “Why should I care about what happened to four French Jewish girls when what happened to Trayvon is more important.”

Because as long as it is okay for anyone to single anyone out because of who they are and hurt them it will never stop anywhere. Trayvon’s family and friends, they are the ones who have the right to say that what happened to their son is more important than what happens to anyone else. We, as strangers, can feel their pain with them, but we have a responsibility not to pretend to their grief and to look outward to all the others who suffer from this inhumanity and share with them their burden as well.

The dialogue should not be why this happens to one more than the other because the fact is, that is only true in the moment. In a way, everyone gets their day in the sun as being the one everyone goes after. What needs to stop is this kind of self-centered focus of “only what happens to people who are like me is important and gets my interest and my energy.”

If we do not work for a global morality that rejects this mindset, nothing will ever change. It will just become hidden in one instance to pop up somewhere else.

None of us have the right to pretend to the mantle of grief that Trayvon’s family feels. We do have the right to say, “I cannot imagine what you are going through and I promise you, I will do everything I can to make sure that no other family ever suffers this. I will do this in Trayvon’s name and to honor his life.”


c.2012 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.


About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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