When a jury acquitted George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin in 2013, I had only been 21 years old for a week. In that short time, I already brought in the milestone with friends and family on multiple nights full of good times and laughter. As a matter of fact, when I got the news of the acquittal, I was headed home from the Taste of Chicago with a friend after paying way too much for domestic beers all day.
This past Friday, Feb. 5, would’ve been Trayvon Martin’s 21st birthday. As I sat back and thought about where I was when I was 21, it hit me that these were just some of the many life experiences he was robbed of when he was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer hiding behind Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws.
Trayvon Martin’s death and the aftermath that followed were both traumatic for people all across the country as they watched the proceedings from start to finish. But it would be unfair for any of us to act as if it impacted us as much as it did his family.
Out of all of the tweets that were made to celebrate Trayvon’s 21st birthday, the most popular and deeply resonating one was shared by his older brother, Jahvaris Fulton.
— Jahvaris Fulton (@jahvaris_martin) February 5, 2016
When Trayvon Martin was killed, he wasn’t the only one that was losing opportunities. His brother wishing that he could do something as simple as taking him out for his first drink is proof enough of that.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the political spectrum, multiple tweets were posted that spoke to an uglier side of humanity. As Salon reports, right-wing Twitter spent the day condemning Trayvon for allegedly playing a role in his own death and painted him as a stereotypical thug that was up to no good.
Trayvon Martin’s unfortunate death was a major turning point for this country and the people in it. From a personal standpoint, it was the first time that I was made aware of how easily I could be killed, posthumously have my integrity discredited and have the person responsible walk away free to be coddled in the arms of conservative America as if he or she did them a service.
Luckily, many took the opportunity to remember Trayvon Martin and all the others that have fallen victim to unnecessary violence. But we shouldn’t reserve this collective reminiscing for occasional milestones. They should constantly be on our minds as we work to prevent these heartbreaking instances from happening again.
Photo Credit: Twitter