for Trayvon Martin
If you wear a hoodie, are 17,
are black, are male in America,
know the bullet is meant for you,
even if all you're carrying is iced
tea and Skittles. In imminent danger,
your life asserts no clearer claim
to matter more than the time
it takes the other guy to put himself
up to no good. You hear your girlfriend
insist you run; you tell her you will
walk fast, you're heading home,
anyway, but what do the police know,
except how hard it is to act
against the use of deadly force
once suspicion leaves your voice
stilled on that wet road in Sanford.
© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas
The more I learn about the fatal shooting of the unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, the greater my sense of outrage. For those needing background, go here.
The poem's title refers to Florida's despicable "Stand Your Ground" law. Unfortunately, that law is only one among those of 21 other states.
Also of interest: "The Deaths of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin: Meaningful or Misleading?", Reader's Alamanac, March 26, 2012; and "On Trayvon Martin", The Learning Network, The New York Times, March 26, 2012