Let's not forget that.
In the five weeks since his murder, there have been many things said about Trayvon Martin, about his killer George Zimmerman, the neighborhood his father lived in, his mother's tears, pleas, and pain, how Obama feels about him, how millions of us remember him in our hoodies and marches, his academic record and suspensions, his girlfriend, and even Spike Lee's connection to him.
But, in all of this, in the various ways that we have immortalized him, pretended that he was the only Black boy this has ever happened to, and listened to every news anchor and journalist's take on him, we have not reiterated that he was, in fact, a good boy. And we should be saying that in every breath that we speak about him and on a daily basis.
He was a good boy.
A good Black boy.
A good son.
A good friend.
A good brother.
He was a good boy.
I don't care if he was suspended from school.
If he smoked pot.
If he confronted Zimmerman aggressively.
If he jumped on Zimmerman's back and smashed his head into the hood of his car.
If he broke his nose (which he didn't).
He was still a good boy.
And he would've grown up to be a good man. A good Black man. And we need to remember that. Because we assume otherwise. We assume that Black men as young as five are any number of things but not good. As Ann Arnett Ferguson brilliantly analyzed in her 2000 book, Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity (University of Michigan Press), teachers, administrators, counselors, parents, adults, other young people adultify young Black boys. Black boys don't really get to be boys, early on we assume that they are little men. And in the case of Black men that also equals: Thugs. Criminals. Ni**as. Predators. Dogs. Bad. Suspects until proven otherwise, even, as the media is demonstrating, when they have been murdered in their own neighborhood. Others have written more eloquently than I will here, but we cannot forget that Trayvon Martin was a good boy. Not because of what he did or didn't do, but simply because he was good. And we have to remember that about all of our Black boys and men. They are good. Good men. Good friends. Good husbands. Good boyfriends. Good play husbands. Good gay men. Good straight men. Good men. Period.
And I say this as someone who doubts. A couple of months ago, my younger brother went to jail. I won't write about why here, but he spent several weeks in jail until the charges against him were eventually dropped.
He maintained his innocence the entire time.
And, the entire time we questioned his innocence. I did. My mother did. His father did. Other folks directly involved did. Anyone I told the story to did. All of us. We questioned him. Now, my brother has been struggling with various things in life since he was 18. He's 35 now and he's been in "trouble" many times before, has went to jail once or twice before, has not always been truthful with his people, blames other folks for his transgressions, on and on and on.
But he's still a good man.
Since my brother was born, five years after me, I have been suspicious of him. Don't get me wrong, I loved my brother and I was very protective of him. But, he was diagnosed with epilepsy as a baby, heavily drugged as a child to keep it in check, which in turn made him super hyper. All. the. time.
Imagine that for a second: a super hyper little Black boy in predominantly white settings. In predominantly Black settings. Needless to say, he got in trouble a lot. He wasn't trusted. He lied about things. He threw things at folks. He got in trouble at school. He screamed and cursed. He got on my nerves.
But he was still a good boy.
Just like my partner's little boy, who is seven.
Just like Trayvon Martin.
And just like the next Black or Brown boy (or girl) who gets shot because we thought they weren't where they were supposed to be.