I am Trayvon Martin and my life matters.
Thats what the first page of the Justice for Trayvon Martin toolkit reads. The text is underneath a picture of a smiling 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was killed in 2012 and whose death became the central point of the highly publicized trial of neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was ultimately acquitted of the crime.
The toolkit is an 11-page pamphlet published by BYP100, a group of 100 young black activists from around the country who are focused on mobilizing communities of color beyond electoral politics. BYP is a subsect of the Black Youth Project, a group dedicated to research and action to increase the political power of todays young black leaders. It has joined the Dream Defenders in their protest at the Florida Capitol, which entered its 30th day Wednesday.
The toolkit, said to be inspired by the murder of Trayvon Martin, explores the complexities of the Zimmerman trial, complete with associated readings and action steps for readers to take to start their own movements like the month-long protest at the Florida Capitol. A good chunk of the pamphlet is fixated on what BYP100 calls white supremacy and "internalized racism" between Zimmerman and Martin.
The second page of the toolkit shows a raised fist holding a package of Skittles. Another hand in the background is holding Arizona iced tea -- the same items Trayvon Martin bought from a nearby convenience store before Zimmerman shot him.
An excerpt beneath the photo speaks about white supremacy and how viewers of mass media are encouraged to feel sympathy for the white male through specially worded narratives.
Talk of white supremacy doesnt end there. The toolkit explores what BYP calls "white supremacy" in virtually every aspect of the Zimmerman trial, and deems Zimmerman "consumed by white supremacy."
Zimmermans residence in a gated community -- where Trayvon Martins father, who is black, lived -- is called racial privilege in the toolkit.
"George Zimmerman is ethnically Latino -- however, he has the same racial privilege as [a] white person, living in a gated community," reads the toolkit. "He has a light skin color, and he holds no Spanish name. So Zimmerman is so whitewashed, and consumed by white supremacy, that is why he is white."
One of the descriptions of readings on witness Rachel Jeantel also discusses white supremacy and its effects on her testimony. The description reads: "exploration into white supremacy and the white gaze (sic) that end up killing Trayvon ... much the same as the one that devalues Rachel Jeantel."
The toolkit includes action steps for organizing youth in the community, urging readers to take the toolkit and use it for their own movements. It also includes links to videos and songs addressing Trayvon Martins killing. A link to the #BlackLivesMatter Tumblris also provided. The Tumblr page is full of videos, photos, essays and poems, many of which discuss Trayvon Martin, Marissa Alexander, and racial profiling in the U.S.
The pamphlet has already gathered the attention of the Dream Defenders, who have been camped out in front of Gov. Rick Scott's office for over a month. The Dream Defenders posted a download link for the booklet on their Twitter page, which boasts over 12,000 followers. The Dream Defenders have vowed to stay put in the Capitol until a special session is called. But the governor already rejected a special session and a polling of lawmakers to force a special session has proved futile.
Reach Allison Nielsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.