Monday, July 15, 2013

Trayvon Martin: Sharing My Heart. Again.

I wasn't pleased with the verdict, yesterday, but I don't think any verdict could've pleased me. Because Trayvon Martin's dead, and that matters.

We traveled to Baltimore, yesterday: five people; all manner of Pampered Chef tools; and a giant, cookie cake. I needed icing and birthday candles to decorate that cake, so Jim stopped at an Aldi in downtown Baltimore. He wanted to know if I felt alright about going inside, and I said something about having worked in the heart of Dallas in the middle of the night.

People don't generally scare me. Maybe they should, but I'd rather err on the side of comfort than on that of fear.

This is the kind of store where every item's still packed in a big, brown box with the rest of its kind, and I don't get that. Why is that? Do they think someone's going to want the whole, brown box full? There's nothing aesthetically pleasing about a space with so many brown boxes, and trust me, no one's confused. Not even the food's confused; it's ready to get in a moving truck and get the h-e-double-matchsticks out of there.

A young, thin black man and I nearly bumped into one another in the aisle. I can't remember who said sorry or excuse me or what, but I looked brightly at him and reached out, brushed his sleeve. "Do you know where the birthday candles are?" I asked, and I thought of Trayvon.

"Birthday candles," he repeated, his tone rich and warm as melty chocolate. "Not sure. You'd think they'd be right here, though." I mmm'd my agreement; kept on studying the brown boxes full of smaller boxes; thought of Trayvon.

There was a woman pushing a baby in a cart. She had two other children with her, besides, and I'd heard her long before I saw her because she'd been screaming at Jabril. She was screaming at him, still, and I'd like to tell you she was threatening to spank his little hiney, but in fact, she was threatening to kick his ass: her expression as hateful as her tone. Jabril must've been accustomed to both because--when I saw him--he was climbing the big, brown boxes and paying her absolutely no nevermind.

He was six or eight, and I thought of Trayvon. I prayed right then and there for Jabril's mama; she looked young and overwhelmed enough to be those things for a very long time.

I asked a worker about the candles and she confirmed: they don't carry them, and what does that mean? Don't people in downtown Baltimore blow out candles on their birthdays? What a sad grocery store to assume its patrons wouldn't purchase candles (just food stuffs out of big, brown boxes), but I responded only with a thank-you and a smile. "You're welcome," she said--calling me Honey or Sug or some such--with her own smile. I thought of Trayvon.

The man in front of the man in front of me punched in the same, wrong pin number three times as I waited patiently in line with my can of vanilla icing. "Is there someone you can call," the cashier asked, "to get the correct pin number?" And then: "Will you come back for your groceries?"

"I'll have to, I guess," he said, scowling from under the brim of his hat. I thought of Trayvon.

"Yes," she said, "but will you?" She was cool as a self-assured cucumber in her cat eye glasses, only about eighteen. She didn't even have paper or plastic: just more brown boxes. I thought of Trayvon.

And it's all I know to do; understand? I'm too tired to preach to anybody. I'm just doing my thing: I'm deciding not to be afraid; making contact with my eyes and fingertips and smile. I'm praying and waiting patiently. I'm thinking of Trayvon because he's dead, and it matters so much.


  1. It matters, I don't think anyone will deny that. I have thought of Trayvon's momma more than once a day....

  2. There is no joy in an untimely death. This, however, was not a hate crime. This was a case of self defense with a very sad result.

    1. You know what: I don't necessarily disagree, J. What bothers me is that Zimmerman wasn't on duty. He should've left well enough (and it WAS well enough) alone. He was advised to stay in his vehicle and didn't, and I'm sure he felt confident in his activities because he had a gun. It is a tragic result. It just didn't need to happen.

    2. Brandee, I'm with you. My grandmother used-to say, "If you go looking for trouble, young lady, you will find it." Zimmerman was looking for trouble and he found it. He took another life, because he wanted to play policeman. Anyone who can't see that he caused this situation, is wearing blinders and covering their heart. We have all felt angry and upset that others make us feel unsafe, but do we follow them with a gun in hand? How many of us have been so hated by others? How many times have I been followed in a store for shopping while black? I have been hated because of the color of my skin. Growing up in Oklahoma, I had to learn to love myself and my color, because I was called all sorts of derogatory names that pertained to my skin. people don't like thinking about this because it hurts and it stains. Just think, if God followed us around with a gun, because we "looked suspicious," we'd all be dead, dead and more dead. It may not have been a hate crime, which I believe it was, but it was definitely a "stupidity crime." Would Trayvon still be alive if Zimmerman had followed the instructions given by the 911 operator? Yes. I hope my comment opens hearts and eyes, so that all of us start to look at each other with eyes f love, instead of, white, yellow, matter your color, we all must look at each other with eyes of love. It's not going to be easy...I wear stained glasses over my eyes, sometimes, when my heart is filled with hurt and pain...I will always need to remove my glasses and clean them.

    3. Agreed: crime of stupidity. I'll feel better--not much, but better--if Z has to pay a penalty via civil court.

  3. i would have bought that man's groceries right then and there...... LOL ..........but I probably would not have thought about trevon, he wouldn't have crossed my mind......just has casey or calee anthony.... doesn't cross my mind in target (even though if you watched her trial as closely as I did both) you would know she frequented there with her stolen credit cards........its the same thing to me...... I am sorry that your mind goes there tho..... my mind would have giggled at the boy in the boxes and I would have thought about ... wow.. I really would have had to make sure he was safe... I would not have thought about praying for them ..... I wish I would have... thats why you are so awesome

  4. Brandee - this is one of the loveliest, saddest pieces I've read following this tragic-on-so-many-levels, horrific incident. Thank you for humanizing it all. And thank you for thinking of Trayvon when you shopped. I think of Trayvon's mama a lot these days.

  5. Ah! You wrote it! YAY!

    It is wearying, isn't it? A decision a moment, it seems. But your heart is a beautiful thing, Brandee. Honest and open and wanting good. I love that about you. This moment in history? This is our time, you know? We'll look back and say we either did or we didn't and that's the way it will be. Thanks for writing this. Keep writing. Keep buying candles and touching a sleeve and sharing a smile and whispering a prayer.

  6. Excellent post. Yes, he's dead, and it matters. It matters how I treat whoever I run into today. And how they treat me. Making a decision to not be afraid--that matters, too. Thanks for sharing this viewpoint. Truth spoken here.

  7. he is dead and that matters...a simple, very loaded statement...smiles..i have not written about this...i think you are right that no verdict would have pleased everyone, i like that your response is reaching out and not cringing ever inward...