Wednesday, July 29, 2020

NOW IS THE TIME to have heartfelt racial justice conversations.

 “Trayvon Martin Is Our Son Too,” were the words my friend Karen had printed on one thousand metal, pin-on, buttons surrounding a picture of her family and me. That happened in April 2012 when Karen was dying from the effects of Multiple Myeloma and her husband was recovering from a heart attack.

    On the day we decided to have the buttons made, I had gone to her home to pick her up because we planned to visit her husband at the rehab facility. She was troubled by the news of Trayvon Martin’s death. As we talked about it, her activist personality took over and she declared:

            “We have to DO something.” 

    After a conversation about possibilities – a community meeting, a newspaper article, a letter to the editor – we decided to create the button. We looked up button companies and chose one that would deliver in twenty-four hours if they had a picture by 3 PM.

    We planned to take the picture at the rehab facility in order to include Karen’s husband. As I packed the car with Karen’s walker and wheelchair, she called to me, “Don’t forget the hoodies. Bring one for everybody.  Trayvon Martin was wearing a hoodie when he was killed.”

    When we arrived at the rehab facility, Karen gave these instructions.

    “Everyone put on your hoodies. And Rosemary go get a nurse or an aide to come in here and take the picture.”

    I returned with a nurse, handed her an iPhone and joined the group posing for the photo.

            Karen explained to the nurse, who was black, “We are making a button. The words on the button will be,’Trayvon Martin Is Our Son Too.’ We will wear these buttons until justice is done.” The nurse reacted with surprise before tearing up. Then she whispered, “I didn’t think white people cared.”
    Karen died a few weeks after we had the buttons made but she lived long enough to start conversations about racial justice. We gave buttons away until they were all distributed within the community. I still have my button and will wear it now, hoping for justice. 
    This time, in 2020, we are focused on a different son. George Floyd is our son too. 

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