EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was first published on HuffingtonPost.com on April 9, 2012.
I have been captivated by your story ever since I first caught wind of it in February. Like your parents, and countless other Americans, I want justice for you and the life that you will never get to live. I am saddened by the recent attacks on your character from various anonymous “sources” that claim that you weren’t a good kid, implying that somehow George Zimmerman was within his rights to take your young life because of a 10 day school suspension and an empty bag of weed. These “sources” are trying to paint you as a young black man headed towards a criminal life at the incredibly young age of 17.
It has always amazed me that people who are the staunchest defenders of life are the same people most comfortable taking it. While the ones that preach “love thy neighbor” are the ones quickest to attack them. To the people out there attempting to smear your name I would say that if they were to be judged by the things they did as a teenager, their lives might also look anything but upstanding. Trayvon, I sincerely wish we had met before your murder made me aware of your life. I see so much of myself in you. When I was 17 I certainly was not the man I am today. I grew up in South Central, Los Angeles. My teenage years were very tumultuous for me and I often felt alone, uncertain and afraid. I sought security and acceptance in all the wrong places and I paid the price for that. I joined a gang when I was a young man and as a result of my involvement I have been in situations and seen things that still haunt me to this day.