My photography journey has been very special to me. My camera has taken me places I would have never been and introduced me to people I would have never met had I not picked up a camera back in 2016. Given where I am now in my own journey with my photography and blackness, it’s important to me that my art expresses my views. That said, Black History Month is the perfect time to share a special piece.
There was a 911 call made in 2012, on February 26th of a “suspicious person” by George Zimmerman, who was a "neighborhood watchman,” for a gated community in Florida. He was told not to get out of his car, but he did anyway and pursued 17 year-old Trayvon Benjamin Martin. Moments later, there is gunfire and Trayvon was killed. If you’re unfamiliar with the case, please find more here.
The case ended up going to trial and George Zimmerman was found not guilty. Being in graduate school at the time, I was able to watch the trial in its entirety. I thought for sure the system was going to get this one right, but Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law won. Not much older than Trayvon, my heart sank into my stomach at the reading of the verdict. Since then, I’ve seen more and more of these accounts, with just a bit of a different story, such as Michael Brown and Tamir Rice.
I do my best to speak out about these injustices when they occur in an effort to educate others on the issues, but also to send a message: Black Lives Matter.
Trayvon was wearing a hoodie that evening and supposedly that is what deemed him “suspicious”. That has always bothered me. Although, we all know the truth: it wasn’t the hoodie that was the problem—it was the color of his skin that was a problem for Zimmerman. Since then, I have constantly asked myself the question, especially since this continues to happen and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon, how do we get White America to see us? How do we get them to see us as equal and not a threat? I am not living the black male experience, but I can certainly empathize and recognize that the hate is real. It’s not about Trayvon’s Skittles or Arizona Tea, Michael Brown’s stolen cigarillos or Tamir Rice’s toy gun; it’s about the color of their skin.
Black History Month is the perfect time to remember Trayvon Martin. I wanted the hoodie in a juxtaposition with Trayvon at the center and send what I hope is a very clear message.