| July 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman were on a collision course. It was their fate to meet. What we choose to make of this young man’s death and the freeing of his killer is our destiny. Fate is what happens when one is unconscious. Destiny is what we consciously create as loving beings from the often harsh facts of life.

Two days ago, I had my own Trayvon Martin moment. I went to visit a friend’s artist studio unannounced. He was not in and I lost my way in the maize of studios. While trying to find the exit I ran in to a young blond woman in slacks and a tee shirt who would later identify herself as the “building’s manager.” After pointing the way out I noticed she was following me.

“Why are you following me?” I asked.

“Because I don’t recognize you and you don’t know where you are going.”

“Stop following me,” I insisted. “I am here to visit a friend with a studio here. Is that not allowed?”

Needless to say what followed was recognizable to me as a Trayvon Martin moment, without the gun and a fistfight. She asked no questions, did not challenge any of her assumptions and defended her realm. She would not have acted in the same way with a white man of my age and disposition.

For me it was an fateful moment. Yes, the building I was kicked out off had recently experienced incidents where studios had been entered and things taken. Yes, it is near to the “other side” of town.  But I was not the one and neither was Trayvon Martin.  I had taken it for granted that I could freely walk into a building, while rapping to my girlfriend on the phone and be left to mind my own business.  I was wrong.  Trayvon was wrong too. He assumed that he could go out for skittles, a bit buzzed, rap on the phone with his bestie and be left alone. He was wrong.

These are the facts. I am no longer in denial about them.

Fate is what happens when we let things slide — the facts take on their natural course. When you fall asleep you have to wake up. Fate is simply a wake up call.

As white institutional racism in this country is consciously being dismantled and as those who identify with it feel increasingly threatened, this what is to be expected: increasing clashes of pockets of un-consciousness, where assumptions are made, questions are not asked, and we live out our histories, inclinations, experiences and idealism. The American Dream may be our destiny, but Trayvon Martin’s killing and its aftermath is our fate. And it will be repeated if we do not stay awake, even as we dream.

What then can be our destiny?

First I have determined to be more conscious. Freedom, safety, and self-worth is not something that is given, it is something that must be taken; not from anyone, but allowed from within oneself. I will no longer give myself permission to not be present to my surroundings.  There was a time when this was okay, when I believed that justice and the law would protect me. I no longer believe that. In fact I have reason to factor the opposite. The justice I will experience is a sound mind, the presence of mind to directly confront evil wherever it is found with a clear voice and in creative ways that disarms it.  I no longer expect anyone’s idea of decency to support my choices.

My friend B’Jai from the sanity of her hospital bed [illness can do this], suggested that in an incident like mine, we take the high road and shame people like this into good behavior. “Some people have no shame,” I countered. But sitting at home later I wished I had had the presence of mind to take out my phone and take a video of this building manager throwing me out, and then publish it.

Shaming is not enough.

Far too many of us fear the media when we now have the tools to make media. Too many of us despair about the power of our voice when a voice is what created us.  I accept that in the context of the massive transfer of power that is taking place globally the idea of privacy will change in ways that cuts victims and victors. We have an opportunity to use media more wisely.

This must be our chosen destiny and voice: our joy and laughter must become creativity and power; charm and dynamism must become wisdom; nurturing and self-sacrifice must become self-sufficiency;  freedom must become harmony.  And while we are at it let’s speak a new narrative – one not divided between us and them, but one rooted in our shared humanity and common desires.

After telling a friend what happened to me and drawing similarities with Trayvon Martin, this friend said, “I have stayed away from the news and all the injustice swirling around us and for good reason. I want peace in my life.”  I too had tried to say away myself from the media around Trayvon’s killing for much of the same reasons, but it’s beginning to dawn on me that in this country we may all have to consciously negotiate this threshold whether we want to or not. Trayvon’s death is challenging us ALL to to live with a greater sense of awareness and presence. We can no longer, get high, put our headphones on and hope for a peaceful life. IT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

Had Trayvon Martin lived and George Zimmerman died would the verdict have been any different. Maybe. But his defense would have been the same as Zimmerman’s: self-defense. That we live in a world in which we all with valid reason fear for our lives, is the wake up call.


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Category: From the Editor


About the Author ()

Olubode was born in Kingston Jamaica. In 1984 he migrated to the United States. He has lived and worked in New York City and Los Angles as an attorney, business manager and life coach. He is the facilitator of The Essential Journey, a professional photographer and the founder of BLOOM Magazine and The BLOOM Party. Websites:

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