Photo by Joy Reid
So Maragret Carlson is upset that Rev. Al Sharpton is leading the charge in the Trayvon Martin case? Welcome to the real world, ma’am, where it takes a media movement to make a black kid’s death something other than routine.
A clip from my Herald column this week:
In a March 30 column, Margaret Carlson recounted the painful circumstances facing the family of Trayvon Martin, a teenager shot to death by a neighborhood watch volunteer in February while visiting Sanford with his father.
Carlson said the case is ripe with naturally compelling tragedy. Trayvon was a “typical teenager” who “died for the crime of Walking While Black.” And she says that natural horror is quite enough to gain the story national media attention without the help of Rev. Al Sharpton.
Unless it isn’t.
Study after study has shown that young black men and teenagers are far more likely to be viewed as suspects; more likely to be profiled, arrested and jailed and more likely to be shot dead in America’s streets — by whites or fellow blacks — than any group. And their deaths, sadly, have become almost routine, from the standpoint of the media. Only in instances where the horror is captured on cell phone video and becomes a Youtube sensation, or when mass action takes place to galvanize national or global interest, do the dead become Trayvon Martin.
Martin was shot, eulogized and buried, without the media sensation Carlson claims should have naturally occurred. For 10 days, it passed as strictly a local news item in Central Florida.
Only after his parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, hired attorney Ben Crump — a Tallahassee lawyer who specializes in raising the profile of his clients’ dead loved ones, as evidenced in the case of Martin Lee Anderson, the 14-year-old beaten to death at a Florida boot camp in 2006 — did people start paying attention. It was Crump who contacted Sharpton, and Sharpton who helped organize the largest rally, in Sanford a week ago, which was among the events that made Trayvon’s death a national conversation.
As dismissive as Carlson is of Sharpton’s role, it was inarguably critical to helping Trayvon be not just another dead black kid. Combined with advocacy on social media by people like Kevin Cunningham of Change.org (which was also needed in the Martin Lee Anderson case, which bubbled up only after the surveillance tape of his beating went viral, and after a ruckus was raised by then-state. Sen. Frederica Wilson, who organized last weekend’s Miami march for Trayvon Martin’s family) Sharpton helped bring the case crucial attention.
Read more here.