Trigger Warning: Police violence, racism, murder due to -isms, references to ableism
I am not Trayvon Martin. I face stereotypes for who I am, nasty ones, even, but not ones that mean a man would want to follow me and shoot me down in the street. I am white, and I am read as a young, pretty cis woman, and so I am not considered a threat. Even when I am mistaken for a person of color, no one thinks I am Black. I may be mistaken for Indian, or half-Han Chinese, or Xinjiang, once even for Mongolian, but a young Asian woman walking home alone at night is not assumed to be the burglar any more than a young white woman walking home alone at night is. Different stereotypes. Safer ones, in terms of getting shot by the Neighborhood Watch member following you.
I am not Trayvon Martin. I am alive, and I was raised to believe the police would help me. I was told that if I were lost without my parents, I should ask a police officer to help me find them, or a mother with children were I unable to find a police officer. I was told they would help me. It has even been true.
I am not Trayvon Martin. If he had been at the playground in my town with his friends the night the cop pulled in quickly, I doubt the night would have gone as it did when it happened to me. My friends and I did nothing wrong, and most of us were white. The officer chatted with us for a time, showed us what some of the buttons in his patrol car did, shared stories of growing up in the same town he now patrolled. For Trayvon, would innocence have been enough? I doubt it, when innocence didn't save him the night of his death (attempting to defend yourself against an older man with a gun following you in his car does not preclude innocence; it merely implies reasonable fear of those who can hurt you.)
I am not Trayvon Martin. We share the risk that in certain situations, our murders could be considered excusable, but the situations are completely different- I risk being neglected to death by those who think an autistic life not worth living or a murder at the hands of a “saintly” caretaker at the end of their rope. I do not risk being hunted down by a member of the Neighborhood Watch. I do not risk being assumed a threat and killed for that. I know what is similar- the existence of ways we could be killed without justice served to the killers- and what is different- the ways, the reasons, the stereotypes of our groups, my ability to sometimes hide my difference while his always showed, and the fact that it has been done to him. I am not Trayvon Martin. I will never be Trayvon Martin. I don't want anyone else to be him, either.