The Trayvon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander
A powerful meditation on race and the trauma and potential of the rising generation of young adults, from Pulitzer-prize finalist, New York Times bestselling author and poet, and president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Elizabeth Alexander.
In the midst of civil unrest in the summer of 2020 following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, one of the great literary voices of our time, Elizabeth Alexander, wrote a moving reflection on the psyche of young Black America, turning a mother's eye to her sons' generation. Originally published in the New Yorker, the essay brilliantly and lovingly observed the lives and attitudes of young people who even as children could never be shielded from the brutality that has ended so many Black boys and men's lives. With camera phones and internet access, the racist violence that has plagued America throughout its history has become more extensively documented, and immediately and constantly accessible through news articles and social media posts. The children of this generation were teens too when Trayvon Martin was murdered in 2012 before reaching adulthood, becoming the first in a series of now well known names, and any efforts from mothers to protect their sons from the heartbreaking truth of our society was futile in the digital age of information.
Now, the viral essay which spoke so resonantly to this unique historical moment that it was shared and praised by Barack Obama, John Legend, Melissa Harris Perry, and many more, is expounded upon, bookended by additional essays woven with profound insight and heart and combined with groundbreaking art by prominent and up-and-coming Black artists. Taking the reader through our past and extrapolating its lasting impact through to our current moment, Elizabeth then turns her eye to the radical potential of our future. Through her lyrical prose, Elizabeth Alexander writes with pride, fear, love, and a keen awareness of the reflective power of pop culture and art on the nature of racism and the fight for racial justice as it spans and evolves across generations. These essays are essential reading, a breathtaking expression of both the hope and horror of this era.