The image most media are using of Trayvon Martin, the kid who was walking home and got shot to death near Orlando a month ago, is of an angelic-looking teenager.
It looks like this:
Now, in an effort to start a counter-narrative – to suggest that Trayvon isn’t the innocent some media members are making him out to be – some, including white supremacists, are passing around two images of they claim are of Trayvon.
This one, which many outlets say came from his Facebook and Twitter pages:
And this one, which is probably not Trayvon:
In these last two pictures, The young man in them looks notably more “thuggish” – tough and aggressive.
Let’s be totally clear about one thing.
Even if both of these pictures were of Trayvon, neither tell us ANYTHING about his character or the events leading up to his death.
Millions of teenagers – white and black, male and female – upload stupid pictures of themselves trying to look tough, every day. All male teenagers pose as tough guys. All of them. Especially online.
Have you heard of the meme “White Chicks And Gang Signs”?
Like Trayvon, I grew up in Florida.
Unlike Trayvon, I’m white and I went to private schools my entire life.
When I was in fifth grade, there was a cool kid who went to my school named (I think) Wesley. Wesley, a short white kid with red hair, was cooler than everyone because he wore his shorts baggy and low and his t-shirts huge.
Once, for show and tell, he brought in a poster of Snoop Dogg.
As I got older – and kept going to private schools – I encountered more and more kids trying as hard as they could to look like the young man was trying to look in those second two pictures.
We may never know.
But let’s be clear. Pictures showing a black teenager looking like a tough guy don’t tell us anything at all.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post said the picture of the kid with a dartboard behind him was “definitely” Trayvon. It said the second picture may be Trayvon. Most media outlets are now using the picture with the dartboard as a picture of Trayvon, though some people question this. Also it’s pretty clear now that the second picture is definitely not Trayvon.
All of this is actually beside the point, which is that none of these photos tell us anything about Trayvon’s character, other than that he was a typical teenage boy.
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