Trayvon Martin: What It's Like to Be a Problem | The Nation

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Sorrow, dread and frustration

Thank you so much for your compelling and insightful piece. I don’t often respond to editorials; however, Harris-Perry’s words rightly capture the sorrow, dread and frustration I’ve felt as a black person since I was 14 years old. Now at age 58, I never thought that I would still be pulled over while driving, still followed in stores even after I purchased something and still looked upon with suspicion when walking the streets. So angered I am at being treated as something fearful while black, I was compelled to stage my own protest.

Because deaths like Trayvon’s occur so regularly, I’ve become desensitized by it, which is why I’m writing to thank you for this article. I don’t like to blame the media for our social ills; this article helps me to maintain this stance. However, it is typical, but no less frustrating, to witness media that deflect the reality of racism that frames Trayvon Martin’s killing by constantly offering that Zimmerman is Latino and has black friends, so, therefore, the shooting couldn’t possibly be racially motivated, or, worse, that Trayvon shouldn’t have worn what he was wearing and shouldn’t have been walking where he was walking. On the local front, as a child advocate who lives in Philadelphia, I was deeply troubled by the decision of Mayor Nutter and Police Chief Ramsey to impose a curfew on teens as a way to crack down on the so-called flash mob incidents our city has experienced over the past few years. That their only recourse is to attack the symptom with heavy policing, stop-and-frisk and incarceration, rather than to address the motivations that contribute to these incidents shows a lack of vision, as well as revealing their fear of our children. How do we wage war on our children? On the other end of this public expression is the gentrification of flash mob activities by well-heeled and presumably upstanding citizens as they engage public spaces with songs and dance numbers, some of whom are able to secure grants to do so. They don’t address our youth’s frustration of having nothing to do, no money to do it, and no one to hear them. Must our youth do a song and dance to be accepted? Neither of these tactics address the racism that continues to mark black bodies as a problem and, sadly, neither do our leaders.