“America is missing 1.5 million men of color.” That’s the line in Sybrina Fulton’s op-ed in CNN that stood out most to me.
Fulton is the mother of Trayvon Martin, a black teen whose shooting death at the hands of George Zimmerman in 2012 sparked a national dialogue on race and justice. The op-ed, titled “Why I Support Hillary Clinton” and published Monday, details Fulton’s reasons for throwing her support behind the Democratic frontrunner.
“With so many of our children’s lives on the line or taken, we simply can’t afford to elect a Republican who refuses even to acknowledge the problem of senseless gun violence,” Fulton writes. “The rising generation of our young people need a president who will stand up to inaction from Republicans and indifference from the National Rifle Association. I believe that person is Hillary Clinton.”
Fulton says she supports President Obama’s recent executive actions for common-sense gun reform and says she believes Clinton will take them a step further, specifically by closing the gun show loophole.
But, of course, there is more than gun control at play. There is the issue of systemic racism that leads to the unjust deaths and incarcerations of black people in this country. Fulton addresses this as well:
“She sees what I see: a criminal justice system that is not always just. A system that has contributed to creating a reality where just selling cigarettes, playing loud music, looking at a cop the wrong way or walking home from the store are now activities that can get you killed. If you look at the numbers, America is missing 1.5 million men of color — lost to a system of violence and mass incarceration that seems to have long since forgotten them, but we haven’t.”
The op-ed ends with Fulton listing off names, names that have unfortunately become familiar to many of us: Eric Garner, Jordan Davis, Laquan McDonald, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell,Tamir Rice.
This also reminds me that Hillary Clinton vowed to cut ties with the private prison industry last October.
“When we’re dealing with a mass incarceration crisis, we don’t need private industry incentives that may contribute — or have the appearance of contributing — to over-incarceration,” Clinton campaign spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa told ThinkProgress when the decision was made.
As it stands, the school-to-prison pipeline system is incarcerating black people at rates much higher than those of white people. One in every three black men will be incarcerated in his lifetime.
We have made some progress in the past few years. A Republican president would threaten to undo all of it, and regress us even further. I agree with Sybrina Fulton. We must protest, and we must vote.