What do I say to you, man-child, or for you, that has not already been said? I've tried writing this letter to you several times, and several times the words would not come. There have been tears in their place, or immense anger, and a painfully heavy kind of sorrow. Or some debilitating element of fear, if I can be vulnerable and real with you. Fear that I might say the wrong thing, or somehow offend you, your family, or someone who may not agree with my views of our society. But this is not a time to be afraid, Trayvon. We are past that now, and we know that being afraid to speak and do is the same as creating your own prison, and being stuck there forever. These times are demanding courage, vision, love, and the determination to make sure your death is not in vain. For in writing this letter to you I am also writing it to myself, to America, to all of us, and asking myself, all of us, our America, to be truthful, in a way we have not been previously, about who we are. Your murder, Trayvon, is a national tragedy, and the entire world's gaze is upon us with a mixture of empathy and disappointment. Empathy because any human being, regardless of her or his background, is going to feel the devastating loss of a life, even that of a stranger. Disappointment because we in America claim to be a democracy, one that sets the standard for other countries-a great nation where there is, allegedly, justice and equality for each and everyone-yet it took over six weeks for George Zimmerman to be arrested, and only because of loud and consistent public outcries.
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