Trayvon Is Already A Verb

Don’t let a proper name become a common noun

On election night of 2008, I was so excited that President Barack Obama won. I never thought I would live to see the day that the leader of the United States would be a African American man. One of the first things I thought about his election is that I hoped he would not be assassinated. The second thing is that I hoped is that young Black men would pull up their sagging jeans.

It may seem trivial to be concerned about saggy pants, but at the time I lived in New York City, and I bore witness to boxers and briefs shown by many young men wearing saggy pants as they rode the subway or walked to school. I get that it is a style, but it is so aesthetically displeasing to me. For some reason, I thought Obama’s presidency would inspire young men to pull up their pants.

Last year, President Obama said that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon. A few days ago, George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon. There have been protests all across the country with people holding signs that say “We are all Trayvon”. I appreciate the protests but I disagree with the assertion.

Black people are not a monolith. We are not all the same. We share many experiences because of our race. However, where we live, who are our parents and what we do play a major part in shaping who we are.

Three days a week, I walk four miles on a running track at a middle school. Today I saw the football team come out to the track. They were about forty young Black men running practice drills. I wondered if their parents have talked to them about the trial. I wondered if their parents hugged them tighter now. I wondered if they thought they were all Trayvon.

Colloquial language plays a part of how people of similar background communicate and has been chronicling slang and colloquialisms for years. According to Urban Dictionary, Trayvon is already listed as a verb. It means “ the act of neutralizing a lethal threat, through sudden application of deadly force, often with a concealed weapon”.

It is ironic that the named Trayvon has been denigrated in such a way that it means a violent act. The definition is more fitting for the word “Zimmerman”, but that’s another conversation.

Trayvon Martin was a individual. I can’t speak for the Fulton/Martin family, but I would guess that they don’t want more “Trayvons” if that means more young unarmed Black men die by the gun of another man.