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(Reprinted by permission of http://www.ourhispaniola.com)

March 2012

By now, I’m sure most people have heard of the tragedy surrounding the last minutes of Trayvon Martin’s young life. As a Floridian, this has opened up many things that I have kept closed inside of me but am forced to face today. Many people think that Florida = Miami, this is not true AT ALL!!! Miami’s palm tree and Spanish-speaking façade can be wiped away to show the racial inequalities of Florida and the Southern United States*. Drive ten to thirty minutes out of any major city in Florida and you will be face-to-face with confederate flags and the mentality that there are “places” that you belong to.

One thing this tragedy has forced me to come to terms with is no matter if you are an African-American or Non-American Black, we are all Trayvon Martin. For immigrants, holding on to a piece of home is important in shaping our experiences in our new homes. This can be retaining our native tongue, cuisine, dance, etc. Some Non-American Blacks have often felt it necessary to distinguish themselves from African-Americans. Personally, I hold on to being Haitian because it is a part of me I don’t want to disappear. No shade.

Since hearing about Trayvon Martin a few weeks ago, I realize that separating ourselves is a joke. Not only is it a joke, it can also be destructive to our communities in times like these. Times when our not-so-recent past is pushed into our faces. The Civil Rights Movement wasn’t 100 years ago. Amadou Diallo was gunned down very recently in our history. Racial inequality exists and it is important to see ourselves as a collective no matter our background. Separation within a group of people is a big distraction to the real problems we face every day. It surely keeps up from tackling the George Zimmerman’s of the world.

Every time I look at my brothers or their friends, all I see is Trayvon Martin. I think to myself, will someone mistake them for a thug and panic as they walk down a street? The burden that these racial implications have on the psyche of Black men in the United States is something that I am trying to cope with. What if I have a son in this country? This scares the mangú out of me as I realize that- it doesn’t matter where you come from or what language you speak if you are Black in the United States. Are you Black? Then you are Trayvon. When the rest of the U.S. looks at us and see dark skin they see Trayvon.

No matter where we are from, there are things we can do as a collective. Go to www.change.org and sign the petition to get justice for Trayvon’s family. Join a #MillionHoodiesMarch in your area. Most importantly, talk about this issue in your respective communities so that we will never forget Trayvon Martin. (Follow us on Twitter: @OurHispaniola)

Does there still continue to be a divide between non-American blacks and those born and raised in the States? What have been some of your experiences growing up? How do we move towards being more unified or should we?

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