SANFORD, Fla. — Saturday July 13, 2013, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, was found not guilty of second-degree murder and was acquitted of a lesser charge of manslaughter. You will hear details of the news story from sources everywhere in the coming weeks – or so I hope. What I want to focus on now is the conversation this has started and what we can do so it never, ever happens again. I saw news of the verdict for the first time through my twitter feed, as I was casually scrolling by to see what other people were doing on a Saturday night. I had no idea the Jury had stopped deliberating. The tweet that give it away read:
@jsmooth995 The fundamental danger of an acquittal is not more riots, it is more George Zimmermans.
I am so very angry about this verdict that it brings tears to my eyes. I can’t wrap my brain around it. How does a grown man who stalks and murders an unarmed boy plead self defense and win? What law supports this verdict? What system supports this law? Is everyone involved insane or just stupid? And what does this mean for the future of black children in America? For so many African Americans, and for black people world wide, this verdict sends a clear message. It says in America, you are not human. Your children are in harm’s way. Your black sons are dangerous, and will be eliminated. Because it says that the system we have, the system we fought for and continue to fight for, supports the slaying of youth. I am a bundle of feelings and nerves right now so trying to work through this is difficult, but I will try. For the most part, I feel guilty. I really do. Because this is my fault. This is my fault, and it’s yours. We are all complicit. Allow me to explain. Here are some facts of the case, as presented by the court. “Mr. Martin was walking back to his father’s girlfriend’s home when Mr. Zimmerman spotted him and called police to report a “suspicious” person” (Wall Street Journal).” That’s it. That’s what started this whole thing. Mr. Martin was a black teenager, walking alone at night, wearing a hoodie. This next tweet says it all:
How many times have you witnessed or heard stories of these moments of micro-racism? I certainly have. My life is essentially an amalgamation of these moments. And how do we behave in these instances? We act small. We brush it away for the sake of civility, dignity or shame. We tell ourselves there are other reasons why the white security guard won’t stop following you around the store, or the white man stands and moves across the room when you sit down on a crowded train, or the white woman rolls her eyes when you speak, or a man sees a black child walking alone and BECOMES INSTANTLY SUSPICIOUS AND FEARFUL. And so we ignore it, we rationalize it, attempt to explain it away – to see it from the “other side”. Well fuck that noise. I am done seeing it from the other side. I am so sick of conditioning myself to be smaller to fit into an imperfect world. So I’m going to start conditioning the world to FIT ME. Yes I have a different skin color. WHAT OF IT. Does it affect you? NO. The only thing it does is enable me to sit in the sun longer than some people. And for that, I should be feared? I should be despised or eyed warily? I should be separated from my white brothers and sisters because of melanin? This is the unspoken but ingrained law we still live by, and for what? So our children can be shot down in the streets like animals? Well I will tell you, I did not move 10,000 miles away from my home for this. I am done running from racism. We are going to fix this, you and me. It’s past time we woke up and conditioned ourselves to be bigger, bolder and louder. I feel sick to my stomach about this. We all let Trayvon Martin down. He was just a kid, and we all failed him with our actions, and with our silence. So the next time you or I see evidence of micro-racism in our world, I hope we remember this feeling. I am done living small. And when the ignorance and hate threaten to overwhelm you, and you stumble and begin to fall silently back into the way things were? I want you to take a deep breath and say: Trayvon Martin? Not on my watch.
Take action: Sign the NAACP petition to the Department of Justice to open a civil rights case against George Zimmerman! For more on the heinous verdict: Wall Street Journal, “Jury Acquits Zimmerman of All Charges” New York Times, “Zimmerman Is Acquitted in Trayvon Martin Killing“