First Published 7/21/13
After killing an unarmed teenage boy whom he provoked, Zimmerman roams free. This is a truth of our nation. Though I assure you, this is not a truth our nation will pride itself in when we look back on history. My loved ones cried and I tried to comfort them in the midst of a storm that I knew all too well would come. I didn’t cry.Not because I felt nothing, but because the horrid truth of the matter is I was not remotely surprised. Zimmerman’s verdict only validated thoughts I have had for years, unable to unthink them because they’re all around me every day. Racism is real, injustice is real, and the worst part is, our culture has evolved into one that likes to ignore this fact.
Racism is no longer in the style of the KKK; blatant and disgustingly obvious. It is now hidden in our drug laws, and our justice system.
We live in a world where five teenage boys of black and Hispanic descent can be wrongfully charged with the murder and rape of Trisha Meili, the Central Park Jogger based on far less evidence than Zimmerman’s case. In an America where black boys and young men are stopped and frisked each day on the basis of “seeming suspicious.” In this same world we live in, a man named George Zimmerman shot an unarmed black teenager and is released on the grounds of self defense. We dare call this United States a “post-racial” society? It’s harder to see the prejudice when we have come so far as a nation. Optimistically, look at the improvement from separate schools and water fountains to a black president. You can’t deny improvements there. But to say that we live in a post-racial society in a world with Trayvon Martin, is a complete and utter lie. Racism is no longer in the style of the KKK; blatant and disgustingly obvious. It is now hidden in our drug laws, and our justice system.
The majority white, female jury should not be blamed for their decision, as they are not in control of the justice system that chose them, but had they at all been exposed to varieties of blackness, they may not have assumed such aggression from Trayvon in his attempt to defend himself from Zimmerman. This interview with Jury B-37 (who has since signed a book deal, by the way) makes it clear the tone of the majority of her fellow jurors was Zimmerman as victim, Martin as aggressor (See interview Below).
According to her logic, any time a teenager of “suspicious” descent walks in the dark in their own parent’s neighborhood with, dare I say- iced tea, skittles, skinny jeans and a tight hoodie,-don’t hesitate to practice your racism and kill them to “protect yourself,” since this teen is of course a natural threat for simply existing in their presence.We cannot pretend this is not racial. It is racial, in the loudest, most epic fashion. Because it illustrates the fact that young black men must expect to be assumed criminals in our society, without so much as one crime done.
According to Geraldo Rivera, the absurdity of the previous statement is completely validated. Apparently, it’s necessary for black young men to refrain from dressing in any attire that is at all associated with “gangsters.” Is that gangsters, Rivera, or dressing in our societies perception of blackness? For the record, these graphic photos show Trayvon Martin lying dead at the scene of the crime, dressed in an undersized hoodie and khaki skinny jeans. If you have ever come across a “gangster” with khaki skinny jeans, please inform me at once, because there must also be a leprechaun and small bucket of gold by a rainbow nearby. The sad fact is, the way Trayvon was dressed should not have been a factor. It should not be acceptable to assume that if a black man is wearing baggy pants, it’s somehow okay to profile him as a threat.
Are we really saying that if Trayvon Martin was Trevor Martin, a 6’2, 160 pound white teenage boy with iced tea and skittles khaki skinny jeans, that Zimmerman would have found this young, white, boy threatening? Would he have felt his life were in danger? I’m going to take a hunch and say that’s a definite no. This same tone rears it’s ugly head in laws like stop-and-risk, in which innocent young men are criminalized for appearing to cops to be possible criminals. Our drug war practices the same tone in which studies show that while blacks and whites consume almost equal amounts of marijuana, blacks are four times more likely to be arrested for pot possession.. I suppose they just look more criminal.
We are not a country that should stand for injustice. With the results of this Zimmerman trial, we as a country made the statement that it is OK to profile based on race. We should expect it. To that I say no. If Trayvon were alive today, he would be the same age as my brother. Almost two years ago, my brother could have been Trayvon. Tomorrow, my brother could be Trayvon. And I don’t know about you, but that just doesn’t sit right. Justice for all means justice for Trayvon, and in this case, he got none. Until justice is won, I am Trayvon. And for any American that believes in justice for all, you are Trayvon, too.