Like the murder and the subsequent failure to prosecute the perpetrator, our system supports much that defies common sense, and so it should perhaps come as no surprise that Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, is seeking to trademark the phrases, "Justice for Trayvon," and, "I am Trayvon.
I have mixed feelings about her choice. On the one hand it seems dirty to capitalize on this misfortune this way, like racism is evil but greed is totally cool. On the other hand, if I was in her situation and saw that others were capitalizing, what would I do? She'll probably make millions with T-shirts and book deals and movie rights. Can I begrudge her that? And if not, and if it still feels wrong, where is the problem? I don't know.
If the focus of past civilizations was religion, as evidenced by archeologists finding objects of ritual and cathedrals having been the most significant architectural efforts put forth, our society, by contrast, worships wealth. Our cathedrals are shopping malls, and our sacred objects are plastic cards, but there's something that feels wrong about that in a case like this.
I've heard that some ancient societies had no concept of ownership or personal property, and as a thought exercise it seems interesting to contrast that with what we do. In our society it seems that everything, if not already owned, is at least subject to ownership, and so Trayvon Martin's death can become a commodity, and if I want to sell T-shirts that say, "I Am Trayvon," I should owe money to his mom.