Take a stand for Trayvon Martin
Three weeks ago, Trayvon Martin was walking to his father’s home in a gated community. The black 17-year-old was returning from an errand from a nearby convenience store, carrying only a cell phone, a bag of skittles and a can of iced tea. While driving in his car, neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman spotted Martin; alarmed, Zimmerman immediately called 911, reporting a black male in a dark hoodie with his hand in his waistband. Against the instructions of the 911 operator, Zimmerman got out of his car and followed Martin; Martin ran for his life, pleading for help, but Zimmerman silenced him with a nine-millimeter bullet in the chest.
Only in the last few days has Martin’s death warranted national attention. 911 calls from neighbors had captured the scuffle leading up to his death, and news broadcasters jumped on Martin’s story as soon as the tapes were released. Martin’s death inspired thousands of people across the country to sign the petition created by his parents, urging Florida officials to arrest and prosecute Zimmerman.
Numerous concerns arise from this story. There are issues of racism, racial profiling, Florida’s gun laws, and the police’s refusal to arrest an identified killer. Hundreds of thousands across the country are fired up and angry. They are organizing marches, holding rallies, attending meetings, signing petitions, listening to speeches. But on this campus, hardly anyone is talking. This silence, Washington University, is a problem.
Where is the outrage? Silence, to me, is just as bad as committing the crime because speechlessness condones Martin’s death. Saying nothing implies that it’s okay that a young man is dead while his killer is free. We can’t say that Martin’s murder doesn’t affect us because we don’t know him. Nor can we plea indifference because it didn’t happen in our family.
As students at this university, we are a privileged group. Although we work more than we sleep and over-commit ourselves to the point of exhaustion, overall we have things pretty good. Our major complaints are that Professor X hasn’t posted grades on Telesis yet, or our printing credit is running dangerously low, or we lost our meal card and have to pay for a new one. Sometimes, we don’t have time to peek outside the bubble to check up on the outside world. I am certainly guilty of this behavior and am embarrassed to say that there have been times, recently, when I have failed to address certain issues because I didn’t think they concerned me. I’ve decided, however, that I’m not going to let my privilege blind me to happenings of the outside world, and I urge you to do the same.
All the way in St. Louis, Mo., Martin’s murder is our business because we do not stand for injustice. As members of the Washington University community, we have voices and power. Sympathizing about Martin’s murder won’t bring justice for his family. Shaking our heads at the Sanford police won’t cajole them to arrest George Zimmerman. Anger alone won’t send him to prison. Wash. U. students are capable of more. It is our responsibility to speak out against Zimmerman’s wrong. I implore all of you to step up to the plate and make Trayvon Martin’s family proud.
Take a stand for Trayvon Martin at change.org/petitions/prosecute-the-killer-of-our-son-17-year-old-trayvon-martin
Kelsey Times is a sophomore in Arts & Sciences. Write to Kelsey Times at [email protected]