This week’s Herald column: Trayvon Martin and the fears of black mothers


I’m in Sanford covering the Trayvon Martin case for theGrio. Quite an experience. I also wrote about the tragic cad for my column this week.

A clip:

As the mother of two sons (and a daughter), I’ve become accustomed to the warnings attendant to young African-American boys as they mature into men.

Don’t talk back to police officers .?.?. for God’s sake, don’t run from them. Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, be prepared to enter a world that often views you with suspicion, and sometimes fear. Carry yourself respectably. Prove the prejudiced ones wrong.

Sadly, too many black boys grow up afraid of police. The rare but legendary outrages like Arthur McDuffie or Rodney King loom large in the African-American memory, as do the more mundane, but often more painful, slights and personal contacts that breed resentment and mistrust.

There has been too little relationship-building between even good police departments and predominantly black communities, breeding a divide that makes it harder to solve crimes, and making it tense or even dangerous for good officers to do even routine policing in some inner-city neighborhoods.

We also teach our children to be wary of strangers. It’s a lesson that in modern times is impressed on both boys and girls. Too often, the lesson extends to adults much closer to home, to the sports field or even the church.

But it is the stranger, lurking in the great unknown outside our door, that looms in the fearful imagination of mothers (and fathers too). And so we warn them: Don’t get into arguments; don’t fight over a girl. Don’t brag about the material things you have. Keep away from gangs. Stay off the streets at night.

We want our children not to lose their childhoods to fear. We want to give them the freedom to roam, to be independent — to go to the corner store to buy iced tea and Skittles on their own…

Read the whole thing here.

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5 Responses to This week’s Herald column: Trayvon Martin and the fears of black mothers

  1. Good show, your work. I write for Country Roads Magazine,, and more. Lived in San Francisco during the Fabled Sixties. Came from Illinois and now live in the great coastal swamps of Louisiana. LEJ

  2. rikyrah says:

    thank you for your thoughtful column

  3. Thank you, Joy-Ann Reid for the relentless coverage of Trayvon Martin’s murder.
    If not for you and other journalists of conscience, this mayhem would have been swept under the rug by Robert Zimmerman, his son, the murderer, unethical
    police department, judges, and others out there who think African and African-American lives are expendable. They are wrong. Very wrong. Robert Zimmerman
    accuses all African-Americans of hate! There wasn’t even a modicum of condolence to the grieving family and the nation. Robert Zimmerman. A law man? Sounds like a die-hard racist.

    Now to some salient facts about this case. If Trayvon, with blunt forces, knocked
    junior down, pounced on him and violently bashed his head on the concrete, and that somehow Zimmerman junior managed to fire the fatal shot, there
    should be copious blood splatter on Zimmerman. There should be a photo-
    graph and the clothes preserved. Zimmerman should immediately be transported to the hospital for neurological checks. This is paramount in any
    apparent head injury. This procedure and other care should last at least 72 hours in a controlled enviroment. Where these processes and procedures

  4. Bertha Stirling says:

    Joy-Ann – you ave done some wonderful reporting on the Trayvon Martin incident in Sanford, FL. It’s good to listen to someone who keep the facts straight! Keep up the good work!

  5. It’s not only black mothers of black sons, but also white mothers of black sons who fear for the lives of their beloved children beginning at about the age of 14.
    I have a good friend who’s the mom of a mixed race son and what happened to Trayvon is a constant overriding fear in her life. “Walking while black”. It’s so hard to convey the importance of having your happy-go-lucky child absorb the lessons so many grieving mothers could teach him. And, after all these years, why should he?

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