The tragedy of Sybrina Fulton, the agony of Marissa Alexander

Sybrina Fulton

“My message to you is, please use my story, please use my tragedy, please use my broken heart to say to yourself, ‘We cannot let this happen to anybody else’s child… I speak to you as Trayvon’s mother. I speak to you as a parent, and the absolutely worst telephone call you can receive as a parent is to know that your son — your son — you will never kiss again. I’m just asking you to wrap your mind around that, wrap your mind around: No prom for Trayvon. No high school graduation for Trayvon. No college for Trayvon. No grandkids coming from Trayvon, all because of a law, a law that has prevented the person who shot and killed my son to be held accountable and to pay for his awful crime.”

Sybrina Fulton spoke these words yesterday.

Sybrina Fulton and Marissa Alexander face each other across a chasm of tragedy and agony, a condition known by far too many Black women in the United States, women who live under the regime of more than Stand Your Ground laws. Black women in the United States today live in an internally coherent system of racial-sexual oppression.

When Trayvon Martin was killed, and even more when his killer was released, across the country, Black families understood that Stand Your Ground was code for Understand Your Place. Understand that your place is the crossroads of your race and gender.

This lesson is being lived out today by Sybrina Fulton. Marissa Alexander is also living out that hard lesson. Marissa Alexander is a Black woman in Florida, in the same jurisdiction as Travyon Martin. She is the mother of three children. One day, in desperation at the abusiveness of her partner, she picked up a gun and shot it, once, in the air. It was a warning shot.

When she was arrested and tried, she said she was protecting herself and her children, she argued their lives were in real, present and immediate danger. She invoked Stand Your Ground. The prosecuting attorney Angela Corey, the same prosecuting attorney in the Trayvon Martin case, rejected the argument.

Many want to know why. Why does a Black woman get such different treatment? Others respond, “Hey, welcome to Florida. Welcome to America.”

Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years behind bars. She now `awaits her appeal.’ For Black women in the United States, the options provided by the so-called criminal justice system are simple, agony or tragedy. Those options are unacceptable. Release Marissa Alexander from prison. Relase CeCe McDonald from prison. Reject the Stand Your Ground, `Stand Your Position program. Instead, Stand Your Dignity

(Photo Credit: Day & a Dream) (Image Credit: DignidadRebelde.com)

About Dan Moshenberg

Dan Moshenberg is an organizer educator who has worked with various social movements in the United States and South Africa. Find him on Twitter at @danwibg.