Our Trayvons and Georges
It has been a few weeks since the controversial verdict was announced for the George Zimmerman trial in the death of Trayvon Martin. I am an educator, and though my professional Twitter feed did not “explode” with tweets from fellow educators about the verdict, there were quite a few.
Some folks were upset. Some were philosophical. Others were reflective.
I chose to stay silent. Not because I did not have something to say, but because, in my opinion, this event, which has gripped our nation for months and will continue to do so for a while, deserved more than 140 or less tweeted characters. Given the limitations of tweeting, I did not want my thoughts to be misunderstood.
I say this because as one who takes her Twitter PLN seriously, I believe I granted gracious latitude to those I follow who tweeted in anger over the verdict with the exception of a few I chose to unfollow due to what I considered extreme tweets. For those few, the announcement of the verdict revealed a truth of character that saddened me.
To clarify, this post isn’t about whether or not I agree with the verdict. Rather it is about my reflections as both a parent and an educator.
First, as a parent, I am concerned. I have two kids in college.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, I spoke to my them candidly about being kids and what they would do if confronted by an overzealous adult who misunderstood them. We also had a conversation about the importance of following the directive of those in charge especially law enforcement. If a police officer says stay in the car, YOU. STAY. IN. THE. CAR.
Second, as an educator, this case has shed further light on the fact we teach students, which in some ways may represent Trayvon as well as those who may represent George.
In other words, we teach both the misunderstood and the misdirected.
So, how do we as educators help the Trayvons and Georges in our classrooms and schools get past being misunderstood and misdirected and not end up dead or in prison?
I believe it boils down to helping our students develop trust in one other.
George did not trust the police or Trayvon. Trayvon did not trust George.
Without trust there can be no respect. Without respect there is no hope.
And we need hope.
The kind of hope that anyone told by the police to stay put will do just that.
The kind of hope that any kid carrying candy and a drink will make it home alive, so he can be in a classroom the next day ready to learn.