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Trayvon Martin is my son.

I don't mean that literally. I have no relation to the Martin family and I never met the boy. I only know him as you do, from accounts from his family, friends, his family's lawyer, filtered through the media. That's hardly knowing him at all, really.

But Trayvon Martin is my son.

I can't, really, feel the agony that has to be going through his parents' hearts at this moment. Not just the loss of one's child -- but the pointless, shabby loss, with the child's name besmirched, criminalized. Because of a system that allows children to be labeled suspicious. Because of a law that says being a paranoid is a justification for manslaughter. Because the people who are supposed to protect the innocent and the helpless are protecting this boy's killer. In fact I thank god that Trayvon Martin is not my son, and that my sons are home safe in bed and not lying in a morgue.

Trayvon Martin is my son.

I have two boys. The oldest is hearing impaired. He has hearing aids, and does fine with them in restricted situations, but if he's outdoors, and you call to him, he frequently just can't hear you. He likes to wear sweatshirts with hoods, too, and my first thought when I heard about this case was: thank god this was not my boy in that situation, because he wouldn't have even heard this self-appointed neighborhood savior call out to him. He wouldn't've even known he was being called out until this man was almost upon him. I confess I've thought, in passing, when reading about police issuing a "halt" order to a person whom they thought was a threat, but turned out to be another innocent holding a cell phone or a wallet in a "suspicious" manner, how careful my son is going to have to be, especially entering his teen years, when he can't even hear a police officer issuing a "lawful order to halt". It's the stuff of nightmares, even without thinking about what an untrained stranger with a gun and a bizarre law might do to him.

Trayvon Martin is my son.

My younger boy can hear fine. He has some learning delays, and apraxia, a condition that causes significant speech articulation delays. He's of normal intelligence, but he cannot make himself understood to most people. He had a difficult start in life (he came to us as a foster child, and we later adopted him), and can go from being the happiest, brightest child you've ever seen to being spooked by odd fears in an instant. It's difficult comforting him; his speech issue exacerbates these fears because he doesn't have the words to describe what's going on. We keep a close watch on him, maybe to the point of hovering, but as he's gotten older and just a bit more independent, I've wondered what would happen if a scary-looking stranger started chasing him down. As much as we've tried to raise our boys not to be part of the society of fear, every parent has worries in the back of their head about strangers who might want to harm their kids. But you have to let them go at some point. So they can be independent and support themselves, you have to let them ride the bike down the block on their own at some point. You have to let them learn to get to school on their own. You have to let them have their own encounters with strangers at some point, without you there as a safety blanket. You have to let them walk to the store to buy their own candy and drinks at some point. Because you can't protect them forever. You wish you could, by throwing a magic invisible blanket over them, but you can't. You judge the reasonable risks of a situation and you let your child spread his wings. What would my boy do, if stalked by an unknown man, apparently hostile, without a badge? I suspect he'd run. He'd panic. He'd cry. He'd be in terror and scream if physically assaulted.

Trayvon Martin is my son.

You like to imagine that as a parent you can prepare your child for an unknown future. Your own boy will reach his own future eventually, but as a parent, you won't be there to see all that future. If you're lucky, a really lucky parent, your child outlives you by a considerable time. There are days when I can be supremely confident that my sons will eventually be fine on their own. They're full of engaged interest in the world. The older one is very intellectually curious; the younger one, despite his communication problems, is as sociable a child as I've ever seen, seemingly instantly liked by every other kid he interacts with. They both amaze me. I live to see them fly to that future, stepping out of the nest and trying their fledgling wings as they are right now. They're good kids.

Trayvon Martin is my son.

Trayvon Martin is not my son. I can project his family's pain, but I cannot truly experience it. I don't want to know the  agony of being the bearer of my own son's torch, in death. I cannot ever -- I hope I won't ever -- have to face that moment of finality that the beautiful unraveling scroll of my sons' lives comes to a sudden halt. I am so, so sorry for Trayvon's parents, and I am so grateful that Trayvon -- a good kid, by all accounts -- is not my son.

But Trayvon Martin is my son.

When there is no justice for Trayvon, and kids like him, without a promise that we will do better, not worse, there is always the chance that one of my sons will fall to the same fate. Where being different is being suspicious, there will be danger to my sons. Where authority, deadly force, and the law conspire to kill a child, there will be danger to my sons. To your sons. To all our sons and daughters.

Trayvon Martin is your son.

Originally posted to TheCrank on Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 07:32 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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