Trayvon's Tragedy: Exploited in Death
Profiting from the death of a child is sick and disgusting. Unfortunately, this describes the circle of exploiters promoting the Trayvon Martin traveling show after his death in February 2012. And if you're Trayvon's parents, there's nothing like having the president, the attorney general, the state attorney general, several civil rights lawyers, and invested others to help you in your campaign.
In contrast to the feeding frenzy surrounding Trayvon, take the tragic story of Tyler Binstead of Virginia, for example, as a case in how to handle the death of a child with dignity and compassion. His family saw no fanfare, no posturing by political officials, and no national media attention.
On March 27, 2008, two black teenagers with a third positioned on the street in a getaway car tried to force 19-year-old art student Tyler Binstead and his girlfriend into the trunk of her car after robbing them at gunpoint. Later, Tyler's girlfriend would tell police that she and Tyler instinctively knew that if they followed orders, they would die. So Tyler calmly shut the lid of the trunk, took his companion by the hand, and started to walk away.
The younger thug pleaded with the female shooter to just let the couple go; after all, they had gotten the loot and the keys to the car. But it was not to be. Feeling disrespected, Zsabriela Williams followed through with her earlier threat to "put a cap in his ass" and shot the creative, promising aspiring artist in the back. The mayhem that ensued gave Binstead's girlfriend time to run for help. She survived, but Tyler, a sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University, whose family and friends described him as "talented, smart and insatiably curious," died at the scene. His crime? Collecting sod samples for an art project he was working on and strolling in the moonlight with his sweetheart.
Almost a year after the murder, Tyler's twin brother, parents, and older sister spoke to a local magazine reporter about living without Tyler. The writer noted that it was difficult for Tyler's family, and especially his brother, to convey their thoughts and feelings without stopping every few seconds. Contrast this with the multiple press conferences, appearances, and cable interviews Trayvon Martin's parents made just a month after his death.
The black-on-white killing in Richmond never hit the mainstream news. No white Al Sharptons or savvy lawyers appeared to hire public relations people or media consultants to arrange international Tyler Binstead Tours. There were no speeches in mega-churches or trips to London, or foundations set up to stash monies from a huge number of individual donors, interest groups, and high rollers. Or marketing of Justice for Tyler T-shirts like the hoodies sold in Trayvon's name.
Mr. and Mrs. Binstead didn't seek out the media, trademark their son's name, or mix with people who would act as if they had hit the lottery, suing any entity remotely related to their son's slaying.
The family, including Maggie, the young woman with Tyler that warm spring night, was forced to navigate the twists and turns that go with a homicide case the best way they could. They relied on law enforcement and an uncorrupted state's attorney's office, not eager legal ambulance-chasers. Tyler's dad heaped praise on the detectives and commonwealth attorney handling their son's killing. "I can't say enough how efficient and professional they were...they were sensitive to our needs...they kept us abreast."
No cries of reverse racism there.
Tom Binstead's words reveal much about his family. In fact, his daughter, after attending the courtroom trial of the shooter, whose lawyers recounted a childhood of abuse and abandonment, felt moved to suggest she might leave college and help mentor inner-city kids.
The fact that the three defendants came from broken homes with interchangeable caretakers and were routinely shipped off to someone else's house when the going got rough touched Paula Binstead, Tyler's mother. She concluded that kids growing up in households "without strong parents" were most at risk for lashing out at innocent people.
Seth, Tyler's twin, came away from the trial introspective and disillusioned by the lousy job some parents do raising their children. "They don't consider that there is another generation past themselves and that it needs to be cultivated and it needs to be given knowledge to function...instead this next generation is just infected with the whole cheapness of life[.]"
Trayvon Martin's cheapened life has further depreciated in death. The scheming, scamming lawyers; the narcissistic parents who act as if they are doing God's work by passing the basket; and president Obama himself, who helped set this whole thing in motion after the police had cleared Zimmerman, have managed to enrich themselves with money and power.
What really happened to Trayvon Martin from birth to death doesn't matter to the exploiters. The trial judge may have ruled before the trial to suppress any mention of the tweets, Facebook postings, and pictures depicting Martin as an angry, struggling, lost teenager, but the online revelations tell the real story.
There is little reason to think Trayvon's parents did not know of their son's suspensions, pot-smoking, and gangsta musings. Where were Ms. Fulton and Mr. Martin when Trayvon began his trek down such a destructive path? Better yet, why didn't they point the finger at themselves and warn other parents in the inner city not to ignore the signs they so obviously missed? Why are they profiting from this tragedy when they are at least partially responsible? In all their public appearances, have the long-divorced couple ever testified to their own lack of accountability, personal discipline, and parental involvement?
The truth is that Trayvon Martin appears to have been tossed around like a football among Mom, Dad, and relatives his whole short life, and not one of the individuals crying out to the heavens for justice for Trayvon wants justice unless it comes attached to a lot of green stuff.
No wonder Fulton's and Martin's lawyers hired a PR firm. They needed the best made-up story money could buy. Sybrina's and Tracy's lackadaisical attitude toward their son's well-being all these years wouldn't have made them very sympathetic figures. The modern-day Rumpelstiltskins had to work around the clock to turn that straw to gold. The pervasive exploitation that followed yielded not only a huge financial payoff, but a political one as well.
But if Trayvon's own parents can so easily be roped into exploiting their dead son, it shouldn't surprise anyone that lawyers, politicians, race-baiters, media consultants, and marketers are feeding off the same corpse.
It was a win-win for all parties. Not only would Trayvon bring in big bucks for his family, but the publicists and press agents would make Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton into the parents they should have been when Trayvon was little.
Maybe most egregious of all was that the president had much to gain from the teen's death. His "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon" statement set in stone the racial profiling meme he had begun three years earlier after the arrest of Professor Gates, when Obama said "the police acted stupidly."
Within weeks of Trayvon's death, Obama sent in the FBI and the DOJ to investigate a local police matter. Soon George Zimmerman, like the Cambridge police department, would be treated worse than the cop-killers sitting in prison and defended by Obama's buddy Van Jones or Holder's Black Panthers.
Finally, Obama's minions would set up a kangaroo court to go after a Hispanic-American. Even with the trial now behind us, and a verdict of not guilty, Trayvon's parents and their exploiters will no doubt get a maximum rate of return on a kid they hardly knew.
Unlike the Binsteads, who suffered in silence without benefit of the race card or media attention, whose son was more a real crime victim than Trayvon will ever be, the Martin family will continue to bask in their newfound celebrity.
Sybrina's and Tracy's fictionalized image as doting parents has been woven into the Trayvon narrative. How ironic that Martin's and Fulton's detached, aloof, and controlled affect so soon after their ordeal has managed to elicit such emotional responses from the public. Whoever was coaching these people deserves some kind of award -- but then again, money and fame are powerful motivators.
The famous pastor Jamal Bryant called Fulton the "mother of the new civil rights movement" when she addressed his Black Empowerment Temple in Baltimore in 2012. The Baltimore Sun went so far as to describe the "grey cocktail suit with sparkling buttons" Fulton was wearing for her debut. Fulton told the congregation she couldn't cry, because "she had work to do" and God was "using her."
Apparently, it was God's plan that Fulton would now be heading up the Justice for Trayvon Foundation along with her ex-husband (who apparently left her for another woman and then left her for another and then another, with kids in between). I guess this is all in God's plan for Fulton, Martin, and the Obama administration.
Read more M. Catharine Evans at Potter Williams Report.