Tuesday, May 1, 2012

How can we truly honor Trayvon Martin and Steven Lawrence?

Written by Janice Maxwell


For the past few months the media has hyped a teenage senseless death. With all this media exposure, has this stopped the marginalization of Black youth in general and Black young men in particular? Trayvon Martin’s death is to Black America what Steven Lawrence’s death was to Jamaicans in the UK.

The similarities are eerie despite the fact that the incidents occurred in two different countries. Trayvon Martin was a Black American teenager; his crime was that he was walking to his father’s house, so a racist decided the he should die. Steven Lawrence was a Black British teenager, whose parents are Jamaican; his crime was that he was standing at a bus stop. A group of whites decided he should be killed because England has too many Blacks. These are the same English people that colonized Africa and exploited their natural resources. They use to brag that the sun never sets on the British Empire. In both cased, the police refuse to prosecute even though the evidence was obvious.

Since the news cycle highlighted these two young men, opportunist profited economically and politically. In the US and UK people marched, signed petitions and community leaders came out for their 15 minutes of fame. 20 years later Steven did not get justice. How long will Trayvon have to wait? In the meantime, the vultures circled.

Racism is big business. So far, the Steven Lawrence case has had two documentaries made; PBS made a Masterpiece theatre movie; the play of Steven Lawrence ran in the UK for a good while. Who made money on these ventures? Because Trayvon was wearing a hoodie, a line of hoddies and hats were patented on with his image. Black flesh has always made money for non Blacks.

Profiting from murder does not further race relations. Let’s not be like the money changers in the temple. Steven and Trayvon short lives deserve to be honored in a dignified manner and not fodder for a quick buck. Community groups should examine the structure of worldwide racism; create projects that will encourage entrepreneurship; revamp the judicial systems in both countries and change the common stereotypes that the media is more than willing to perpetuate. That way, no other teenage Black male will be targeted for death.