by Eileen Maloney-Simon
CEO, YWCA Miami-Dade County
Once again we find ourselves saddened, outraged, and questioning how a child can be killed at the hands of an adult. Once again we find ourselves asking how this can happen, why did this happen, and how can we protect our children and guarantee them our country’s promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? These questions and more are being asked throughout the country, but no where more loudly than here in Florida where the life of a 17-year-old child, Trayvon Martin, was ended with a single gun shot by a man who is claiming self defense and who has not yet been arrested.
This very sad story has replayed itself over and over and yet we have still not confronted the underlying causes. Racism is alive and well and it is taking its toll in more and more devastating ways. We must not fool ourselves, if Trayvon had not been a young black teen, his alleged shooter might not have felt threatened and would not have made that fatal decision to shoot. We must all work together to change these sad realities. We must make it safe for all of our children to walk freely in neighborhoods without the presumption of guilt. We must state unequivocally that if one child is harmed because of the color of their skin then all of our children are at risk. We must be firm in our resolve that significant changes must be made in our social, political, and legal systems so that no parent experiences the heartbreak and suffering now experienced by Trayvon’s parents. Until such time as these changes become reality, we must remain ever vigilant and confront every hint of racism or prejudice each and every time they raise their ugly heads.
While we cannot even begin to know the pain and loss experienced by Trayvon’s parents, we can join with them in their call for justice and accept nothing less. We can work towards change and take a stand against racism in all of our communities. The YWCA of Greater Miami-Dade encourages you to talk openly about what happened to Trayvon Martin with the children and teens that you serve and help them to process this tragedy as we continue to do here in Florida. Join us on this April 27 at our annual Take a Stand Against Racism – for yourselves, your communities, our country and Trayvon.
Eileen Maloney-Simon is the CEO of YWCA Miami-Dade County, which served more than 15,000 people in 2010. A Miami native, Maloney-Simon has been named one of The Commonwealth Institute’s Top Women Led Businesses in 2010 and 2011 and was awarded a Pepsi Everyday Hero Award in 2007.