I am not Trayvon Martin. I am not a black man. My ancestors were not carried to America in slave ships and denied their human rights. But my father was a slave under the Nazis and most of my father’s family were murdered in the Holocaust.
I am not Trayvon Martin. I am not a black man. But I am an African American and a Jew. I know what discrimination looks like. I know what it feels like. But I do not let it define me or my reaction to others. I do not let it change my behavior . . .
I am not Trayvon Martin. I am not a young man, but I was once. When I was a young man I was suspended from school for accidentally kicking a toy into a classmate’s eye. But I was never suspended for vandalism. No one ever discovered a screwdriver in my locker or stolen jewelry that I was “keeping for a friend.”
I am not Trayvon Martin. But I remember what it meant to be a teenager out at night, alone. I knew to walk cautiously. I knew to stay in the streetlights. I knew to look out for strangers. I knew to walk assertively yet avoid confrontation. I knew what it meant to be afraid.
I am not Trayvon Martin. I have never participated in a street fight. I have never gone looking for a fight. I have never attacked anyone. I have never straddled a person lying on the ground and punched them in the face or head.
I am not Trayvon Martin, but I know there may come a time when I have to fight to defend myself, the lives of my loved ones and/or innocent life. I know there is no other reason to inflict violence on another human being, regardless of their race, color or creed.
I am not Trayvon Martin. I am a gun owner. I am a man exercising his natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. If Trayvon Martin was legally armed and legitimately in fear of death or great bodily harm he would have had the same right to defend himself by force of arms as I do.
I am not Trayvon Martin. But I am a parent who teaches his children to understand that actions have consequences. I do not blame society or history for their behavior. Or mine. Or anyone else’s. Because our rights are based on personal responsibility. And one day, one way or another, we will all be judged by what we did, rather than what was done to us.