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BBC: ‘Rest In Power’.

I heard about this book, “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin” when Trayvon Martin’s parents appeared as guests on a recent episode of “The Daily Show”. They’d taken their story, which started when Trayvon was born, and put it into print for all to read.

And I immediately added my name to the reserve list at the library. It took a few months for my name to be at the top of the list, but it finally happened, and I read a majority of this book in one day. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

Trayvon Martin’s parents take readers beyond the news cycle with an account only they could give: the intimate story of a tragically foreshortened life and the rise of a movement.

On a February evening in 2012, in a small town in central Florida, seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking home with candy and a can of juice in hand and talking on the phone with a friend when a fatal encounter with a gun-wielding neighborhood watchman ended his young life. The watchman was briefly detained by the police and released. Trayvon’s father—a truck driver named Tracy—tried to get answers from the police but was shut down and ignored. Trayvon’s mother, a civil servant for the city of Miami, was paralyzed by the news of her son’s death and lost in mourning, unable to leave her room for days. But in a matter of weeks, their son’s name would be spoken by President Obama, honored by professional athletes, and passionately discussed all over traditional and social media. And at the head of a growing nationwide campaign for justice were Trayvon’s parents, who—driven by their intense love for their lost son—discovered their voices, gathered allies, and launched a movement that would change the country.

Five years after his tragic death, Travyon Martin’s name is still evoked every day. He has become a symbol of social justice activism, as has his hauntingly familiar image: the photo of a child still in the process of becoming a young man, wearing a hoodie and gazing silently at the camera. But who was Trayvon Martin, before he became, in death, an icon? And how did one black child’s death on a dark, rainy street in a small Florida town become the match that lit a civil rights crusade?

Rest in Power, told through the compelling alternating narratives of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, answers, for the first time, those questions from the most intimate of sources. It’s the story of the beautiful and complex child they lost, the cruel unresponsiveness of the police and the hostility of the legal system, and the inspiring journey they took from grief and pain to power, and from tragedy and senselessness to meaning. 

While reading this book made my heart break all over again for Trayvon, for his family, his friends, and for the live he didn’t get to live, it opened my eyes to a lot of new details I didn’t know before: like just how secretive the Sanford Police Department was to his family; and how many of the “facts” in the case simply don’t add up.

A friend of my questioned why I was reading this book. For one, I am very sensitive to racial injustice, and it is one of the topics that gets me most fired up because to me, it is very obvious that we are surrounded by institutional racism, and I feel it is my job as a woman with white privilege to speak out against what I know is wrong.

But I also know that even at his core, Trayvon is innocent. He was victim-blamed, despite not being armed at all, his school records were subpoenaed even though he was a minor, and many people talked about his past – maybe he stole this or maybe he smoked weed. But walking while black is not a crime, and he died for it.

I am very thankful for Trayvon’s parents for having the courage to write this book, along with the bravery to continue to fight for justice for their son, and for many, many others who have fallen in the name of unjustified violence. Although we still have a very long way to go, the conversation is forever changed, and I know Trayvon will never be forgotten.

I absolutely would recommend this book to anyone, especially if you didn’t pay attention to this case (or any that followed). The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “My Year With Eleanor” by Noelle Hancock.

I hope you have a fun, fantastic weekend – make it a great one, and do something good for someone else! I’ll see you all on the flipside!

27 questions in hopes of justice.

Standford University... home of sexual preditors.

Standford University… home of sexual predators.

I was really questioning whether I should post anything about this case, but the more I’ve seen and read about it, how could I not? This case – The Stanford Rapist (I will not glorify his name or former accolades here) vs. The Victim – and its ruling affects women everywhere, and it has made me incredibly angry and emotional over these last few weeks.

In the last year, the general conversation over rape culture and sexual consent has finally started to come out from the bottom shelf, and it’s made me think a lot about the men of my past and the experiences that have shaped my views on sex. While I am lucky enough to not have been in a situation quite like The Victim’s in this case, I will say that it’s not been a bed of roses.

To explain one instance among many, my best friend and I attended a frat party during our freshman year in college. We were drinking, and dancing with many of the different fraternity brothers, and one in particular was swinging us around, laughing with us.

Less than one month later, his name was in the paper as he’d been charged with sexual assault, in a very similar situation we’d witnessed that night. He was accused of drugging a woman at a party. That very well could have been my friend, or me, or someone else I knew. And I know I’m not the only one who’s been that close to being The Victim.

And so, I’ve got 27 questions surrounding this case – because I’m truly left dumbfounded.

  1. Why are we referring to someone who was removed from a University as a University athlete?
  2. Who cares about his athletic statistics?
  3. Why did the judge play favorites?
  4. Does the judge have a daughter?
  5. What would the ruling be if the rapist were black?
  6. What would the ruling be if the rapist never went to college?
  7. Why is the rapist getting away with, not only rape and assault, but also underage drinking?
  8. Why isn’t Stanford addressing their fraternity culture?
  9. Why aren’t we talking more about how the rapist lied about using drugs in the past?
  10. Why are we okay with blaming this on alcohol?
  11. Why do we assume that women are more likely to lie about being raped?
  12. Why didn’t he take ANY blame for what he did?
  13. Why is his father referring to rape as “20 minutes of action”?
  14. Why did the rapist treat The Victim like literal trash?
  15. Why is the rapist already getting out of jail early?
  16. Why was the judge worried about what happened to the rapist?
  17. What would the ruling be if it was the same judge, same rapist, plus a murder?
  18. Why are women taught how to stay safe against rape but men are not taught to stop raping women?
  19. Why do men think women were put on this earth for only their enjoyment?
  20. Why do we celebrate rape in pop culture (I’m talking to you, 50 Shades)?
  21. Why did the rapist use “she agreed to come back to my dorm room” as an excuse?
  22. Why would we accept that as consent?
  23. What is keeping the rapist from doing this again, again, and again?
  24. How does the rapist’s mom feel about this?
  25. How would the rapist’s mom feel if it had happened to her in college?
  26. What does this teach prestigious frat guys everywhere?
  27. How are we supposed to live without fear when this is our justice system?

Unfortunately, the judge in this case began his new term on Tuesday, as he ran unopposed. To get involved in his recall, click here.