Subtitle: “The Racial Profiling of Trayvon Martin

I have cried my eyes out since listening to the 911 tapes of a crime that gives me a headache each time I hear its particulars.

-Borrowing from President Barack Obama, “If I had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon Martin.” http://www.thegrio.com/politics/obama-speaks-for-black-fathers-if-i-had-a-son-hed-look-like-trayvon.php

-If I had a son, he would have acted like Trayvon Martin: worn hoodies, eaten Skittles, and drunk iced tea.

-I have prayed daily for every black male in America because of racial profiling; I have prayed for black males who are mine (blood brother, nephews, cousins, and lover); I have prayed for those I know (friends of family members, friends of friends, friends’ sons, husbands, lovers of female friends , and my religious brothers), for those I hope to meet one day, and for those I may never meet. I have prayed and will keep praying for every black male in America because of racial profiling. Why are black males the only ones who look “suspicious?” Why?

-If I had a son, he would have looked up to who would have been his older sister and would have done these normal things his sister loves–wearing hoodies, eating Skittles, and drinking AriZona iced tea.

-I own jackets with hoodies for rainy and cold nights; I love Skittles, and I drink tea.

-My father’s first name was Martin.

I am Trayvon Martin. I am Trayvon Martin. I am Trayvon Martin!

-I was an A-student and an athlete in high school. “Trayvon, the 17-year old, A-student and athlete, was gunned down in Sanford, Florida on Feb 26th by a neighborhood watch volunteer and wannabe police officer, George Zimmerman. Martin is dead because Zimmerman — in his own words — found the child “suspicious”. When pressed by a police dispatcher for what made the young man’s presence a cause for concern, Zimmerman said, ‘he’s a black male’.” (An excerpt from an article)

-I was a model student and daughter. “By all accounts, Trayvon was a model student and son, having saved his own father from a burning house at the tender age of 9 years old. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Martin’s English teacher described the young boy as “an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness”.

–“Sights and Sounds of the Million Hoodie Match”–http://www.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,1524606068001_2109812,00.html

–Time Magazine article on Trayvon’s shooting: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2109975,00.html?xid=feed-yahoo-top-linkbox

–The Miami Heat (of Florida) wears hoodies in solidarity. http://www.thegrio.com/news/miami-heat-don-hoodies-speak-out-on-trayvon-martin.php

–Sanford (FL) police chief announces he will step down for botching the Trayvon Martin murder incident. http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/03/23/trayvon-martins-death-sparks-national-outrage-mourning/#shooting-death-of-unarmed-teen-trayvon-martin-sparks-national-outrage

–Tracy Martin, father of the slain teen, joins the “Million Hoodie March” in Union Square, New York City, on March 21, 2012. http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/03/23/trayvon-martins-death-sparks-national-outrage-mourning/#tracy-martin-father-of-slain-florida-teen-trayvon-martin-joins-a-protest-to-demand-justice-for-his-sons-death-in-new-yorks-union-square#ixzz1q3I8apyR

–Supporters of Trayvon Martin block traffic as they march through Union Square during the “Million Hoodie March” in Union Square in New York City on March 21, 2012.http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/03/23/trayvon-martins-death-sparks-national-outrage-mourning/#a-million-hoodies-march-protests-death-of-trayvon-martin#ixzz1q3ItZZI6

–A memorial to Trayvon Martin sits outside The Retreat at Twin Lakes community where Trayvon was shot by George Michael Zimmerman while on neighborhood watch patrol. http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/03/23/trayvon-martins-death-sparks-national-outrage-mourning/#neighborhood-of-sanford-florida-still-reeling-in-aftermath-of-unarmed-teen-shooting#ixzz1q3JCQl37

–A timeline of events in the shooting of Trayvon Martin: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/03/trayvon-martin-case-timeline-of-events

–Students from 50 schools walk out in Florida in protest of the shooting of high school student, Trayvon Martin. —http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/03/trayvon-martin-furor-expands-to-school-walkouts-petition/

–“Does race play into it? Certainly. I have no doubt Trayvon would be behind bars if he’d been the shooter in that scenario.”–http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-george-zimmerman-20120323,0,6326075.story

–Racial profiling of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman–“Looks like he’s up to no good. …” Zimmerman told the dispatcher. “This guy’s hand is in his waistband, and he’s a black male.” http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-george-zimmerman-20120323,0,6326075.story

–One middle-aged man with dreadlocks who was marching with hundreds of other people on Thursday night in Los Angeles’ Leimert Park in the Crenshaw District said, “We’re not going to get rid of racism. All we’re asking is that the justice system work.” http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-banks-20120324,0,6872957.column?page=2&track=rss

That is all we are asking for Trayvon Martin: Justice.

May his young soul rest in God’s eternal peace. Amen.

Sitting on Revision

When I taught reading to middle school students who groaned loudly every time I asked them to read anything, I gave them this mantra: “I do not like to read, but I have to read.” I gave reasons why they should read. Those who allowed the sprinkled dust of tacit persuasion to touch their intellect bought into it.

Today, I find myself at crossroads and have to adopt my mantra in order to get over a huge chasm the size of the Grand Canyon. I do not like to revise my work, but I have to revise it for several reasons.

When a writer submits a purported best-write, and the publisher comes back with the proverbial red ink suggestions for a rewrite, it takes a lot to pump up the shoulders, keep eyes on the prize, and buckle down to those suggestions. I repeat: It takes a lot!

That is where I am. I have stated numerous times that I do not have the old fanged and famous diagnosis of writer’s block as hashed out by Edmund Bergler, Purdue Online Writing Lab, Irene Clark, and many others.

Since I have a continuous influx of ideas, I refuse to subscribe to this school of thought. I write because ideas bombard my brain constantly. I choose not to write not due to any writer’s block.

What I have is the Kilimanjaro-reluctance to do what I must do. Some will classify it as procrastination; others will call it writer’s block. I just refused to revise my work. Simple, case closed. Or is it?

I have been sitting on my publisher’s recommendations for months now. I wanted to arrive at a place where I actually would allow myself to take that novel apart, perform the necessary surgery, and reattach the limbs (if possible). It is a tall order, this submission to dismantling a well-built house with a wrecking ball.

I admit, ego blocked my progress. That confounded chip is the undoing and the downfall of a writer who refuses to detach herself from that most magnificent creation and be humble. Today was such a thing for me. I went to bed at 1:50 this morning because transformation gripped me. I devoured books by people who know the business. They tolImaged me to get over my elitist self.

They informed me that I was misinformed. Because I taught English, writing, and literature for decades, and because some colleagues called me “word wizard,” I figured I was that. They said I needed to get real, take off that title, fling it into the bottom of the Pacific, and find a tattered cloak of humility to put on for the world to see that I have written diddly, nada, nothing.

Heather Sellers and The Portable MFA in Creative Writing were kinder in their phraseology, but Les Edgerton let me have it without mincing words. When I say, “me,” I am sure he has no idea who I am, but the “me” refers to any reader who picks up Hooked. Yes, the man knows how to title his book. I was hooked from Page 1 until I put the book down around 1 A.M. and picked up Page after Page by Sellers.

With my tail tucked between my legs, I am humbled and owe my publisher an apology for wasting valuable time on what I should have finished months ago. Then again, I am glad I waited for the tough love that came.

It arrived early this morning with waves of inspiration and resolution crashing down on me to get my lazy behind on the chair, what Sellers calls “Butt-in-the-chair” determination. Needless to say, I needed a figurative kick in the shin (which hurts more than a kick on the derrière).

As any writer worth her salt knows, a writer must be a reader first and must read and read. I feel better now that I have heard other voices to imbue me to do what I must do.

“Go crazy! Punch a higher floor!” sang Prince. I am not letting the elevator bring me down, not until I finish this most important necessity. I hear Prince’s instrumental as I jump into revision. “Oh, no, let’s go! …Let’s go nuts!” (With revision, that is.)