Rev. Donald H. Matthews, PhD: Song for Brother Trayvon


Fall '13 TOC


I never knew you brother Trayvon and now I wish I had never heard your name. It would have been better if you had remained just another anonymous good black kid with people who loved you for who you are and what you were. Did they call you Tray for short? Just a good kid trying to do right. What, do you mean not every black kid is a thug or a gangsta or in jail or trying to make bail?

Trayvon, the universe and white racism had other plans for you on that February night. White racism was hungry the night you were shot. It is a raging beast that must be fed its regular sacrifice of black, brown, yellow and poor white meat. It must be offered victims on the regular lest it misses too many meals and cannibalizes itself. No it must feed on the lives of the innocent. Shocking us back into the reality of existence in a modern or should I say post-modern era, where ever always already forms of aggression keeps the 99% fat and happy while the rest of us make do with the crumbs of conspicuous consumption and limited opportunity.

Trayvon, Didn't your mama tell you that you can't be thinking you have the right to get an ice tea and a bag of skittles from the corner store? Didn't the ghost of Emmit Till tell you that a black boy's life is always in Jeopardy and that it's not a game show? Didn't the spirits of Malcolm or Martin or Fred, Freddy's dead; or the thousand hundred dead black brothers speak to you and ask you to drop on your knees and beg for mercy; or at least scream before you were gunned down like so many brothers before you? The beast was ravenous that night, feeding on the hatred and fear in Zimmerman's soul. It had be fed. Wrong place, wrong time, there is no right place or time when the beast comes calling.

No. I bet you just stood there after being followed, stalked, and whipping George's ass in a fair fight not imagining what would happen next when a coward has a gun. Dammit, what's wrong with you brother? Didn't you know that when Toni Morrison wrote that everyone wants a black man's life she was talking about you and other black boys too? Oh man I am so fucking tired of going to your funerals and seeing the pain of black mothers and sisters and brothers not yet claimed by the Beast. Brothers whose life span was predetermined by the color of their skin the karma of American racist past and the rage of the beast.

I was tired when my nephew was drowned/killed or when my classmates committed suicide by fast or slow means, or when I was hassled for the fifteenth time by our police forces for being black and knowing that if I were white this shit wouldn't be happening. I am so tired of white folks complaining about affirmative action when they don't have to pay the price of the ticket that I may have to pay everyday in every way in Amerika. Folks who don't and will never know what it means for a grown man to have his heart race and his knees shake when he is called a nigger while walking on the street or sees see a police car pull you over for the fifteenth time just because they can hoping that this time they will find some contraband so they can justify their baneful existence in the war on black men popularly known as the war on drugs. Or seeing the fear or fascination in white women's eyes cause they just know that all you want is what's between their thighs.

"Donnie, Always carry your i.d. and a quarter for the phone just in case," my mother always told me and my brothers back in the day. She didn't tell us that the i.d. was just in case you had been killed and they could identify your body; and the quarter was so you could telephone for help and let the family know where you were if you were still alive. Trayvon your fate makes me want to change my name. It will make it easier for me and others to remember what Amerika has been for those who have been betrayed by a system that has fed on the souls of Black Folks in order to stay alive and thrive for four hundred years. Call me Tray Don or Don Tray, mix it, spit it, make it sing and pray that my black sons don't have to have this song sung for them.

Brother Trayvon I wish I had never heard your name. But I have and despite the beast of white supremacy perhaps the universe can take your name and make it a symbol for change. For the change that's coming that Brother Sam sang about "A change is gonna come." Is still waiting for so many Trayvons in so many prisons, in so many juvenile "just-us" facilities, in so many foster homes, in so many inadequate schools, in so many homeless shelters; that we need your name to be a symbol of change.

And ain't that the biggest shame of all.




Not Enough Night
Not Enough Night
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