on the cover

New York Magazine Special Issue: Ten Years After Trayvon Martin

Photo: Artwork by Deborah Roberts

This February will mark 10 years since the death of Trayvon Martin, which sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. But ten years later: are Black lives any safer? New York Magazine’s January 31-February 13 special issue features a look back at the last decade of racial reckoning, with Derecka Purnell on Sybrina Fulton’s grief, Michael Arceneaux on George Zimmerman’s acquittal, Elizabeth Hinton on the return of mass protest, Sean Campbell on the murky finances of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, Brittney Cooper on standing your ground while Black, Kimberly Drew on the misguided empathy of ‘Open Casket,’ Raquel Willis on Black trans lives, four witnesses on the long-lasting consequences of filming police killings, and much more.

With this issue, editors Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Morgan Jerkins wanted to take readers beyond the headlines. “I still have the photo of myself wearing a hoodie, with Skittles in my pocket, protesting Trayvon’s death in Iowa in 2012,” says Peoples Wagner. “Trayvon’s life and legacy changed my life.”

Peoples Wagner, who serves as editor-in-chief of the Cut, says the idea for this issue came to her in the months following a series of conversations with Tamir Rice and Breonna Taylor’s families. “I think what people often don’t realize is that their lives are frozen in time,” she says. “In editing this issue, I wanted to honor Trayvon’s life as much as I could, because for the people who loved him, their lives were never the same.”

Jerkins, an editor and bestselling author, hopes this package will offer readers a fuller sense of the issues that have plagued, ignited and complicated the Black Lives Matter movement and its goals. “What I hope readers will take away from the stories is that aside from the snappy headlines and viral stories, the writers and their subjects are human beings, full of blood and bone, who have stakes in this fight against global injustice,” she says. “The nuance should never be lost in how Black Americans and fellow allies (or comrades) band together to endeavor toward what freedom truly could mean.”

The artwork on the cover was created by mixed media artist Deborah Roberts, whose work grapples with notions of race, beauty, and otherness. Initially, Roberts says she attempted to create a work that would bring together all the faces of Black people who have been victims of police brutality. “I started cutting up faces and merging them together, but everyone needed their own space to exist,” she says. In producing the cover image, Roberts used a now-iconic photograph of Martin. “I wanted to do something that hadn’t already been done for him,” she says. “It’s been used for him and against him. I kind of wanted to take that away.”

Ultimately, Roberts says she hopes people will look at this cover and understand there’s still work left to be done. She wants people to ask themselves how we’re going to make space for children to be children for their entire childhood, and to remember that people can be many things at once. “We have to start seeing people as full people,” she says.

New York Special Issue: Ten Years After Trayvon Martin