Radio Rookies: I Am Trayvon Martin

Vincent Marrero is a sophomore at Vanguard High School and is a member of WNYC’s Radio Rookies program, which trains teenagers how to report on stories in their own lives and communities.

I was shocked to hear about what happened to Trayvon Martin, but I wasn’t surprised that he was targeted because he was a black kid in a hooded sweatshirt.

I wear a hoodie a lot, and I know when I walk through certain neighborhoods and see a cop that I’m probably going to get stopped. 

The first time I got stopped by the police I was 14. I didn’t know what was going on. I remember I had been hanging out with friends and it was getting kind of dark.  I was walking alone up Avenue D and all of a sudden I heard the sound of a police car.

The cop told me it was mandatory — “Just get on the wall, I want to see what you got in your pockets.” 

It felt kind of like getting a checkup at the doctor.  I wasn’t really comfortable having him touch me like that, but I thought he had the right because he’s an officer and that’s his job. 

I remember my mom used to tell me that the police are there to help us and that I should always listen to them no matter what.  I wasn’t about to go against the officer so I was just like, “Get it over with.” I felt guilty. I just felt like, "You’re stopping me? I obviously must’ve done something wrong."

When I got home and told my mom I thought she was going to hold me, make me mac n’ cheese. But she just looked at me like, “It happens.”

Vincent reported his audio slide show as a part of our Neighborhood to Neighborhood project, in partnership with Facing History and Ourselves and with special funding from The Hive Digital Media Learning in the New York Community Trust and The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.