By Sarah Smith | email@example.com
On Sunday night, four Flagler College students and a local pastor laid on the ground in downtown St. Augustine to remember the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
“We’re here to lie on the ground from the time that the 911 call was made to the time that he was pronounced dead,” said Becky Guerrier, who organized the protest.
They chose to do it for 14 minutes because that is how long Martin was on the ground from the time of the 911 call to being pronounced dead.
Guerrier said she announced this protest on Facebook after learning that Sunday marked five years since his death.
“It was unjust, unfair and unfortunately someone’s life,” she said.
Trayvon Martin was 17 years old when he was shot by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, while visiting his father.
“He was a 17-year-old African-American male and he was minding his own business going to the store to get himself some Arizonas [iced tea] and some Skittles, you know, like us young kids love to do,” Guerrier said. “And unfortunately the night watchmen racially profiled him, thought he was suspicious and shot him,” Guerrier said.
After the protest, the students spoke about what this act meant to them personally.
Kayla Lloyd spoke about how this act of laying on the ground lifted a weight “off her heart.”
“I used to be ashamed of being black. I used to be very ashamed, not gonna lie. I used to say ‘God you can take that back I don’t want it anymore, have it,’ ” Lloyd said.
She said that lately, though, she has embraced it. But what she is noticing more and more is the amount of racism her and her family face.
“Lately I’ve been learning to appreciate it, celebrate it and use it,” she said. “[But] I’ve got anger towards my former friends who don’t care, they just don’t care. When I invite them to stuff they find any and every excuse in the book not to show up. I’m trying to learn how to forgive them and to move on.”
She said that back home in Tampa, her family faces a lot of racist remarks and actions as well.
“I’m angry at people who yell ‘n—a’ at my brother as he’s in our neighborhood, playing, which is what kids should be doing. I’m angry at the way my dad has to carry himself in order not to be judged in public,” she said. “I’m angry at people who say ‘we should all just move on, it’s not that big of a deal,’ because they’ve never lived it and they don’t care.”
Becky Guerrier touched on her feelings on the subject after the 14 minutes as well.
“For me it taught me, especially being Haitian, its taught me not just to categorize the race movement before like the woman movement,” Guerrier said.
She said that she had often heard that she couldn’t worry about all three at the same time. Or that people would say that once the races were equal, then she could worry about the women’s movement.
“But I can’t choose to be black and then a woman or choose to be a woman and then black,” she said. “I’m the both at the same time.”
She also said that she has learned to embrace being a woman, being an immigrant from Haiti, and being African-American altogether.
“Understanding that I don’t have to pick and choose which one I can be proactive about. But it’s three at the same time and its three things that are propelling me forward and three things to celebrate,” Guerrier said.
Hasani Malone, who also took part in the protest, said that she is proud to be African-American at a school that is mostly white.
“But even, at like, these schools, predominately white institutions, where there aren’t many black kids here, you also learn to celebrate your blackness because you’re already set apart here because of that,” she said.
She said that her experience at Flagler has been shaped, in part, by her race.
“A lot of times people pick me out in class because I’m the black kid,” she said. “And they’ll be like ‘what do you think about this?’ ”
She continued that it also extends outside of the classroom.
“A lot of times I’ll get like small micro aggressions, like small racist remarks because I’m the only black friend in my friend group or something. My friends don’t do that but the friends that I had when I first got here did,” Malone said.
Although she has had negative experiences with some of the students at Flagler, she said that she is encouraged by the strength she sees because of it.
“I had already embraced my blackness before I got to college, but it’s stronger every day,” Malone said. “Especially every day that I go through like someone racially profiling me, or somebody following me around the store, or [making] racist remarks because I remember how strong I am, and how strong everyone in my race has to be to have to go through that continuously the same way I do. It just makes you proud to be black. “