I still don’t believe the outcome of the George Zimmerman Trial. I know it happened. But weeks later the harsh reality is still unsettling.
George Zimmerman murdered an African American young man, Trayvon Martin, and is free (and apparently saving people on highways in FL).
How does that happen?
The Zimmerman Trial exacerbates and highlights the inherent bias of the criminal justice system and it illustrates the crime that it is to be a black man and exist. The trial communicates to anyone paying attention that a black man standing, walking, or running is, in itself, threatening and suspicious and therefore worthy of further inquiry.
I’m almost embarrassed to admit it — but I found myself feeling relieved that I was the mother of a black girl and not a boy. As a single mother I have fears of how to adequately protect my child from the world but, for a young black man, it seems in many ways that the system is almost set up for failure [See new jim crow]. Kudos to the mothers and fathers of those amazing black boys!! Love and light to you all!
Despite my post-trial grief, I have found reasons to be hopeful.
1) I recently saw Fruitvale Station.
Fruitvale Station is an indy flick that details the last 24 hours of Oscar Grant (a young black man)’s life. Like many, Oscar is a flawed person, but the movie provides an intimate look at his struggle to try to change his life after he was incarcerated and his internal turmoil when he was experiencing a lack of employment opportunities. Oscar Grant was, like Trayvon Martin, murdered at a young age. The LA Subway police officer who killed him served 11 months in prison. The movie was extremely well done; there was not one dry eye in the theater at the end. (By the way, go see it!)
I’m sure you’re wondering, why does this make me feel hopeful? Well, stories from an average black man’s perspective are rarely told. Perhaps the mere fact that young Trayvon Martin’s story is not an isolated story, the portrayal of the humanness of a young black man doing his best for himself and his family, will give the next George Zimmerman pause. The Media plays a huge role in continuing the stereotypes of black men by portraying them animals, criminals, and violent beings. I think it’s high time that narrative changes and Fruitvale Station takes a meaningful step in that direction.
2) The Dream Defenders.
These young people are so awesome! Students from Florida have organized to provide nonviolent civil disobedience training and civic engagement opportunities to create meaningful change in their communities. Their main platform deals with defeating the school-to-prison pipeline, advocating for economic justice, and cultivating youth development. The Dream Defenders have been apart of sit-ins at the state capitol, they are organizing freedom rides to FL and they are backing a new Trayvon Law that would repeal the Stand Your Ground. How amazing!
3) Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin.
The integrity, love, and strength this family has shown the nation during this tragic time is beyond admirable. Despite the unjust outcome, Ms. Fulton and Mr. Martin continue to fight for justice for their son and for the repeal of the law that allowed his murderer to walk free.
Unfortunately, race mattered to George Zimmerman that night he pursued, followed, and killed Trayvon Martin. I wonder if we will reach a day, when it won’t.
by Yasmine-Imani McMorrin