So Ryder and I just posted a picture of the two of us in hoodies. I am not one to twist an ankle jumping on a bandwagon of social justice, but Trayvon Martin’s death resonates with me on many levels. I have taught, coached and mentored many a Trayvon Martin. I have also done the same for many others- and invariably at the core of so many of my interactions has been that above all, character, tolerance, effort, courage and love. Russell Baker’s autobiography represents one of the most accessible and transcendent non-fiction titles for adolescents. In it, he talks about being cared-for in his youth by Annie Grigsby- born in slavery. I always took pause to point out to my students that Mr. Baker is still alive. That means that someone who is alive knew a former slave in his youth. Think about that fact- it should cause us all to consider that the slave era in our history is not so far in the past as most would think. As much as we believe that such intolerances are likewise in our past, those of us who understand that intolerance is a learned/taught behavior and not an innate instinct know different. A neophyte does not evolve from the womb with hate in his/her heart- quite the contrary. We are born with the instinct to connect- to build relationships that comfort, secure and please us. If there is one element of this human tragedy that gives me hope that we are moving in the right direction, it is the overwhelming support that Trayvon and his family are receiving- support that transcends traditional “lines”. From my vantage point, it appears that this event has galvanized our national community in pursuit of human justice. In any event, as parents we have a responsibility to teach our children to embrace everyone, not to judge and to forgive. It is human instinct to want our children to have a better life than we had- and an often forgotten part of that is that we need to give them a world better than the one we were given Teaching and exemplifying human relations with all represents the highest form of improving the world we pass on to our children.