Advice for Young Black Boys, 3 Years After Trayvon Martin’s Death

A Million Hoodies March Protests Death Of Trayvon Martin
Mario Tama—Getty Images A Million Hoodies March protests the death Of Trayvon Martin on Mar. 21, 2012, in New York City.

"You could be a Trayvon," columnist Touré wrote in 2012

It was three years ago — on Feb. 26, 2012 — that unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman. It would be months before Zimmerman, who had said the shooting was in self-defense, was found not guilty, a decision that inspired a new wave of debate about racism and the law. Following the verdict, TIME devoted a cover story to the way the case had shaken the country, as well as its reverberations on a more intimate scale.

As a columnist for TIME, Touré addressed the situation in the Apr. 2, 2012, issue of TIME. He responded to the news with a list of eight pieces of advice for people who “could be a Trayvon”:

Many black families have been forced into uncomfortable but necessary conversations since the Feb. 26 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. His death and the release of the uncharged shooter, George Zimmerman, have reminded many of how vulnerable we still are. The icy cold wind of racism has crept into our homes and made the hairs on the backs of our necks stand up. Blood memories of strange fruit have been stirred. Young black boys have been reminded that they are walking targets for hate. What do you say to them about what happened to Trayvon? Here’s a start:

1. It’s unlikely but possible that you could get killed today. Or any day. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. Black maleness is a potentially fatal condition. I tell you that not to scare you but because knowing that could save your life. There are people who will look at you and see a villain or a criminal or something fearsome. It’s possible they may act on their prejudice and insecurity. Being black could turn an ordinary situation into a life-or-death moment even if you’re doing nothing wrong…

Read the rest of his advice, here in the TIME Vault: How to Stay Alive While Being Black

Read the cover story from 2013, here in the TIME Vault: After Trayvon

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