Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Invisible Boy

I have been waiting to read what Leonard Pitts had to say about Trayvon Martin. Not just because Pitts lives in Florida. But because he's one of those people that has a wisdom about these kinds of things that takes a hard look at reality and helps us see it for what it is. That, to me, is where justice will be found - not only for Trayvon and his family - but for all of us...if we'll listen.

So here's what Pitts has to say.

They do not see you.

For every African American it comes as surely as hard times, setbacks and tears, that moment when you realize somebody is looking right at you and not seeing you - as if you had become cellophane, as if you had become air, as if somehow, some way, you were right there and at the same time not.

Ralph Ellison described that phenomenon in a milestone novel that began as follows: "I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those that haunted Edgar Allen Poe. Nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasyms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bones, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because you refuse to see me."...

That's one of the great frustrations of African American life, those times when you're standing right there, minding your own business, tending your house, coming home from the store, and other people are looking right at you, yet do not see you.

They see instead their own superstitions and suppositions, paranoia and guilt, night terrors and vulnerabilities. They see the perpetrator, the suspect, the mug shot, the dark and scary face that lurks at the open windows of their vivid imaginations. They see the unknown, the unassimilable, the other.

They see everything in the world but you.

And their blindness costs you. First and foremost it costs your sacred individuality. But it may cost you a job, an education, your freedom. If you are unlucky like Trayvon Martin, it may even cost your life.

He lay bloody and ruined in wet grass with nothing in his pockets but $22, a can of lemonade and a bag of Skittles, not a type, not a kind, but just himself, a kid who liked horses and sports, who struggled with chemistry, who went out for snacks and never came home.

Visible too late.

I pray for the day we all start seeing Trayvon before it's too late. That's the justice I'm looking for.


  1. This was sweet... and, sad. ESPECIALLY since it looks like Trayvon WAS a "good kid" and dressed nicely with a respectable "look" about him. VERY sad.

  2. Thank you for the post, Smartypants.

    Here's a word/phrase folks can drop too: "COLORBLIND" I loathe it. How does on fix their mouths to say "I don't see color"?

    For me when I hear this, all I hear is If I don't see your BLACKNESS, I don't have to deal with all the shyt that is attached to said BLACKNESS.

  3. Now I had a lot of time to reflect on young Trayvon's murder and even tho I feel outraged about his murder and about the value of his case by law enforcement, I noticed that the same value plays out and has been playing out thru out my own city of Oakland for years. But there's only one differences. The law cares more about putting black men behind bars for murder over anybody else in this country and that is what really pisses me off the worse. With us in Oakland its like killing 2 birds with one stone. One dies and the other gose to prison for murder and now two black men gone for life without no help from the government for our genocide. We killing each other because of self hate. Since we been in this country we been being murdered in large amounts to the point that now we kill our selves because we been tought to from birth. Where do you think this gangsta shit come from? Not us. We are imitating our opressors. Thats why we see so many thugs and uncle toms. We came from Kings and Queens. Most African Americans don't even know that. All they know is slaves so a lot of us except being slaves.(a real nigga). I agree that we need to start taking the same actions for murders done by our own but we are not the only race in america that kills there selves. We are just the ones that nobody cares about when happens to. They don't care about us dying. They just love seeing us behind bars. Why u think we flooded with drugs and guns. It was all planned and niggas are too stupid to realize. And soon as we leave our hood they do us like Young Travon. These laws were not made to pretect us but they are made to trap us. It seems like everything we value takes chances of us gettin locked up or gettin killed over. I see little kids all the time learnin these things from early ages and willing to fight u to pretect their ignorance. Why are we being tought death from birth as black men? And we livin in the same country that gose,over to other countries and dose the same thing bullying and killing people and creating genocide.