Appreciating BET’s “Shoot First: The Tragedy of Trayvon Martin”

The oft-criticized network BET presented Shoot First: The Tragedy of Trayvon Martin Monday night.

The news special presented facts of the case, interviews with Martin’s parents, and a visual outline of the gated community Martin was visiting. It showed the direct route, a few hundred feet from the home he was visiting, that the teen would have likely trekked uneventfully had he not been gunned down by George Zimmerman.

This story is a tear-inducing reality infusion for all who profess post-racialism, and for all who believe that yesteryear is not happening right now.

One can only imagine the spiritual well the teen’s family must tap into to continue fighting legislation, biased media and obstructionists of justice.

During a particularly chilling segment in the BET special, Martin’s dad, Tracy, said that he lost his best friend. He said that he was supposed to be Trayvon’s protector, and that he was not on February 26, when his son was killed.

Trayvon’s mom, Sybrina, said that her family was “chosen” and that she has faith in God.

Although BET has been criticized through the years for everything from colorism to sexism and the inherent in-betweens, the timeliness, tactfulness and boldness of the special spoke to a desire to promote justice in this case.

Trayvon Martin was humanized in the special.

The human element is a point that New York Times Visual Op-Ed Columnist Charles Blow recently emphasized saying, “It is important to not let Trayvon the person be lost to Trayvon the symbol.”

While right wing diversionary tactics are being employed, some majority members are holding their breath waiting for all this race talk to die down again, and a family grappling with untold loss continues to pursue justice, it is beautiful to see people take a break from social media narcissism, reality tv sound bites and communicative fluff to include Trayvon, Sanford, Florida and hope in their daily interactions with others.

Victim-blamers are another story. I addressed them in a recent post for HBCU Digest.

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