From Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five to Mos Def, Hip Hop lyrics offer a sadly prescient warning of how various institutions allowed for the murder of Trayvon Martin.
“The murder of a teenage life / Fire from the cold steel / The heat from the brights / The temperature of flesh and the shortness of breath / The murder of a teenage threat.” – Mos Def, “Murder of a Teenage Life.”
The death of Trayvon Martin is a story that has polarized many of us paying attention to current world events. On February 28, 2012, 28-year-old George Zimmerman gunned down 17-year-old Martin. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, disregarded a 9-1-1 operator’s instructions to stay away from Martin, whom he deemed to be suspicious. Police arrived on the scene, at which point Zimmerman tells authorities he killed Martin (who was unarmed and returning from a trip to the store to get Skittles and an iced tea) in self-defense. Zimmerman has yet to be arrested [for a more in-depth list of the events pertaining to this case, please visit ABCNews.com’s continually-updated timeline].
But how does something about a 17-year-old in Florida getting shot find its way to a Hip Hop site? And why should it matter to you?
“Now the wives is widows soakin’ up pillows, weepin’ like willows / Still mo’ blacks is dyin’ kids ain’t livin’ they tryin’ / How to Make a Slave by Willie Lynch is still applyin’.” – Talib Kweli, “Redefinition” by Black Star.
Emcee and activist Jasiri X, who has drawn much attention to Trayvon Martin’s death, weighs in on why Trayvon Martin’s death should matter to the Hip Hop community:
“I think Hip Hop fans, more than any other, understand being unfairly stereotyped. Many times we’re put inside a particular box as part of the culture, because people tend to think all Hip Hop is violent and misogynistic. Trayvon was dressed like a member of the Hip Hop community, in a hoody and jeans. So automatically, he was labeled suspicious and a criminal. George Zimmerman’s refusal to see beyond his limited perception lead him to peruse and kill Trayvon. Trayvon could have been any of us.”
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