Big shout out to Penguin Random House for providing me a Signed copy of this book!
I must admit, this was a very difficult read- and it took me several weeks to muster up the strength to write this blog. I have omitted my usual links to the author’s biographies- as I want to give these two the respect they deserve- their privacy.
The raw emotions envelope the written letters on the pages, strengthening those tiny black dots to move the reader into tears and anger. If this book left me emotionally weak and distraught, I can’t even fathom what Sybrina Fulton,Tracy Martin and Jahvaris go through each day of their life!
Yes, the name Trayvon Martin has become synonymous with the powerful movement for justice for Black Lives. This book doesn’t deny the power their son symbolizes, but it does shed light on his individuality, his being- who he really was and forever will be. By doing so, these parents remove their son as another statistic, and give him back his identity. The pages lead us the behind the scenes and let us witness the struggles and confusions these parents faced.
It begins with a narrative from Sybrina Fulton, a mother to two boys who have the cards stacked against them. She knows the struggles coloured boys face in today’s society- so she takes a mother’s pledge to always be there for her sons. It almost seems as though by telling this story, she is fulfilling her promise to Trayvon- she is telling his story when no one else will.
Ms. Fulton describes her son, in a manner only a mother can. She introduces Trayvon to the reader, from the little screaming infant, to the fast crawling toddler. She watched him grow into a teenager with very particular tastes in shoes and clothes-a teenager who would wear a grey sweatshirt in the Miami heat to make a fashion statement. However, he earned his fashion materials by taking odd jobs and would wear a grey sweatshirt in the Miami heat to make a statement. She describes his enthusiasm, “whatever he did, he did it with all of his heart and soul.” But Ms. Fulton doesn’t just paint a rosy picture of her boy, she also gives readers the reality of a teenager-Trayvon had his problems. He focussed on his image more than school (like several teenagers I know!) Eventually he ended up getting suspended from school for ten days- and no one knew he would never return.
Almost as if to give Ms. Fulton a break, the narrative switches to Tracy Martin. He tells his perspective of Trayvon, remembers his son’s last words to him, before telling us his son’s dreams and hopes. This book gives these parents what no one else in society gave- it gives them a break to grieve, through alternative narrating chapters. Even when they had just found out about their son’s death (sic), they were told to be strong, confident and powerful- as they were representing all the black parents in society. No! Why couldn’t they just represent themselves, grieving parents of a child taken too soon? Because this was the only way they had a chance at justice being served.
Instead of having a chance to grieve, and to get answers- they were tossed into a social justice battle. They had to fight tooth and nail to get information about George Zimmerman, again they had to be strong and bare their emotions to the media- only in a moderate dose- enough for newspapers and news stations to get some “juice” into their stories. They both needed to hold it together, while their lives were being run over by the social justice system, and defending lawyers- not to mention the media itself.
This book fills in the silences between the answers to the public, it reveals the gaping hole left in these parents’ lives when their child was taken away from them.
Regardless of whether you wore a hoodie in 2012 to show solidarity, or whether you too lost a child to violence, this book returns your right to grieve- it gives you companionship- you are not alone in this empty world. So do yourself a favour and pick this book up!
If you need to connect with other parents who have gone through a loss of a child, please check out The Circles established through Trayvon Martin Foundation.