The internet blew up around 10 PM on Saturday evening as news outlets reported that a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of manslaughter and second degree murder. It seems the whole nation has been on pins and needles throughout this entire trial, especially as we awaited this verdict. And in this era of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, opinions about this case and what the prosecution and defense could’ve/would’ve/should’ve done will be inundating news feeds for the next week, I’m sure. I’m sure there will be black hoodie vigils, protests for national holidays, and condolences cards sent to Martin’s parents. I’m sure there will be Zimmerman supporters shouting victory in the American justice system. And even some racists peeking around the corner of America’s turbulent racial past who are delighted to see that a white man killing a black boy is still okay.
Truth be told, the only people who will ever really know what happened that rainy February evening are Zimmerman and Martin. We can call Zimmerman crazy and Martin a troubled teen all we want, and that truth will remain so. But I must say, is that what troubles me most about the killing of Trayvon Martin is not that Martin smoked weed and got in trouble at school, or that Zimmerman, who had a past of crazy behavior, was found not guilty.
What Trayvon Martin really represented was the value we place on black lives in this country. If this white man can get away with killing this black boy then all white men can get away with killing all black boys. In turn, black boys will kill each other because society has told them that they are worthless.
From the very beginning, the media, pundits, legal analysts, etc. have framed the argument over this case as if Zimmerman killed the wrong black boy this time. (As if it’s usually okay to kill young black men because they probably are guilty of something) This struck such a chord with me because I have a brother who is 18 years old. I buy him a hoodie from Threadless.com every Christmas. He drinks strawberry Arizona and eats Starbursts with his friends as they walk home from school every day. Trayvon Martin could have very easily been my younger brother.
What now is stopping another white man from shooting my brother and assuming that he will be found innocent? If the court of public opinion, if the liberal media, can’t make a jury in Sanford, Fl. find a white man guilty of murdering a black boy, where is justice for black boys?
I personally am not worried about riots and violence against whites. I don’t think we are those kind of people any more. If we let the Occupy Movement die, then we surely won’t burn and loot for one child. I think the only white person who is in danger here is George Zimmerman, and he seems crazy enough to take his own life. What I am worried about, however, is how young black men will see themselves. No one deserves to feel disposable, and I think that this trial was a moment for the American justice system to say that despite slavery, Jim Crow, civil rights cold cases, beating Rodney King, and the whole spectrum of injustices against black men, we have evolved and we no longer thinks it’s okay.
Let me clarify by saying that I don’t think the majority of white people in this country are racist. I also don’t think all those who were rallying behind Zimmerman are racist. Those jurors only represent a few people’s interpretations of a tapestry of fact and fiction. Everyone has their reasons. The people who really suffer here are Martin’s parents who have had to relive the events of that night everyday for over a year.
I’m done for the night. I just pray that we can have peace instead of turmoil in the days to come.