Last night the news came through that George Zimmerman was found not guilty by a six woman jury (five White, one Hispanic) in the death of Trayvon Martin. This is very painful and troubling situation. It's also one where you have to try to balance the desire to have faith in the justice system and the realization that that faith is not always warranted or deserved.
Last night I was watching episodes of Dr. Who, after having friends insist for years that I watch it. After one of the episodes, I checked online to see if anything had updated with the Zimmerman trial, and I saw that the verdict had come in. And my heart dropped at that point. I was rendered speechless, and just stared at the computer screen unable to really process it.
It's not like it was unexpected, but still thinking it'll happen and then seeing it happen is two different things. I then went on twitter and saw the reactions and it was just further heartbreak. It was just this great outpouring of grief and anger and frustration and sadness and just about every emotion on the scale.
Seeing people I know and respect on Twitter breaking down in tears. Feeling like their lives are not valued in our society, and my wanting to reach out and insist that they were wrong, and not being able to. Not because they're NOT valuable, they most certainly are, but because the society we live in operates in a manner in which the most powerful are valued, and everyone else is not. Rich White men are extremely powerful, Rich White women are slightly less valuable, but by proxy are still very valuable.
Then the lower you go on the economic ladder, the less valuable you are. Your drop becomes more precipitous depending on where you fall on the racial ladder as well.
Sad but true.
MORE AFTER THE BREAK
And this is nothing new. I tweeted to a friend of mine last night that I felt sadness that there was a young Black kid dead, no justice was being served for him, and yet it's not a rarity. That shit happens WAY too often, which leads into the major problem with this whole situation.
You hear people throw out the argument of "Well, if George Zimmerman were Black, then he wouldn't have been charged", which is a reference, most likely, to the Black on Black crime in Chicago which has claimed so many young people's lives and shows no signs of letting up.
There's also people who insist that "well you aren't upset at the deaths of Black youth at the hands of Black youth in Chicago, so you're only interested in this because Zimmerman is White/Hispanic/Whatever".
Aside from the ridiculous question (when has anyone ever said "Well you aren't upset at those White people killing each other, so why are you upset at THIS?" I'll wait.) this is missing a gigantic point, though. People DO care about the Black on Black crime in Chicago. Every child's life should be viewed as something that is mourned when it is lost. As horrifying and demoralizing as the violence in Chicago is, as just so depressing and seemingly unending the deaths in Chicago are, and as senseless as they are, it's a different situation. In the case of Trayvon Martin, Martin was not involved in anything. He was simply going to the store and back to his father's girlfriend's house to watch a basketball game.
He's not a gang member, he's not a drug dealer, he's not a criminal, no matter how hard the defense tried to paint him as such. He was just a young kid out at night making a store run. Nothing more, nothing less. So the fact that he was murdered by a person in authority (even self appointed) and his death was ruled perfectly okay by the jury, it has an extra impact.
This isn't a case of drug dealers and gang members killing each other. This isn't the same as criminals killing other criminals. And even in those situations, that's still a tragic loss of life in a senseless manner. It's NEVER okay, no matter who's doing the shooting. However this is an innocent kid who was stalked, attacked and when he fought back, he was killed. And that was ruled legal last night. The word has gone out now that in Florida you can start a fight with someone, and if you start to lose you can kill the other person and get off. Because you were afraid.
And hey, let's be clear here, it worked. That strategy paid off. They portrayed Trayvon as a scary Black thug and Zimmerman as some weakling who just wanted to protect the neighborhood from those scary Black people. And it worked. Those women, no doubt, looked at him and said "Oh wow, that scary Black gangster attacked him? Well if he hadn't shot him he would have died."
And Zimmerman was set free.
It's a sad day. It's a sad fucking day when a kid can be killed and in the subsequent trial, it's made all about how much of a criminal he was or wasn't. How someone can die and then when their killer is put on trial, it all becomes about thug-ifying the victim. It's disgusting. It's grotesque. Sadly, it's very American.
After the verdict came down, George's brother Robert Zimmerman, went on CNN and basically just continued to throw Trayvon Martin under the bus by suggesting he was trying to procure a gun and may have had/tried to get drugs. Note how he "doesn't know if it's true" but he decides to smear the dead kid one last time.
Let's discuss this for a moment and let's see how fucking ridiculous this is.
"HE WAS TRYING TO PROCURE A GUN"
Okay, so what? He's a "thug" and a "criminal" because he wanted a gun? Putting aside the incredible irony of someone being criticized for wanting to arm himself at the trial of the man who SHOT HIM when he (Trayvon) was unarmed, there's another incredible irony here.
Over the last several years we've heard an outrage from the NRA about how there should be no limits on who can get guns. They've opposed all forms of gun control, even the most common sense. They've opposed laws that would prevent mentally ill people from acquiring guns. They seem to want each and every person out there to arm themselves.
However when Trayvon, a young Black kid is rumored to allegedly be looking to acquire a gun, that's somehow a reflection of how much of a "thug" or a "criminal" he was, and to infer that this was no innocent kid, so he must have had it coming? What world does that make sense?
Why is Trayvon being vilified (after he's already dead) for this thing that all we hear is about how awesome it is to go out and buy guns, and you even have some cities mandating you buy a gun (unless you don't want one, then you don't have to get one). How it's ultimately American to have your kids get their first guns. Apparently that's only for White Americans, because when Black Americans get guns, they're "thugs" and "Criminals" and "Gang bangers".
It just reinforces the idea that the powers that be are all about the 2nd amendment, except for some. Keep in mind the NRA was FOR gun control back in the 60's when Black people wanted to arm themselves to defend themselves against racists and police who were brutalizing them. Then the NRA went to then Governor Ronald Reagan to pass the "Mulford Act" which made it illegal to carry a gun in a car or have a concealed weapon in public.
Get that? The only time the NRA was for Gun control was when Black people wanted them to protect themselves.
"HE HAD DRUGS IN HIS SYSTEM"
Yeah, he allegedly had some traces of marijuana in his system. Despite what the idiot lawyer for the Defense tried to say, does anyone out there believe that small amounts of marijuana makes someone physically aggressive? How many people you know smoke pot that become physically aggressive or violent? I don't know ANYONE. I don't smoke pot myself, but I know many people who do. I've been around people who are high, and I've never come across someone who was anything but mellow and calm, or at the most very talkative and laughing at dumb shit.
As I said, disgusting and just demoralizing.
So now the trial is over. Zimmerman is free to go, but will have to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life, as will his family. Some may think that's punishment enough, but it's not. Nothing is. Nothing will bring back the Martins' son. No amount of incarceration or execution would make Trayvon's parents whole again.
That doesn't mean that there shouldn't be punishment. I think, personally, he should have been convicted of manslaughter at the very least. He killed the kid due to his profiling him for the fact that he was Black. He followed him and felt he was "suspicious" because he was Black. Whether there were break-ins in the neighborhood or not doesn't change the fact that he followed him because he was Black. If he was a White kid, he would never have given him another look.
If you think otherwise, then I don't know what to tell you.
The problem is that the State put on the worst case possible and almost seemed like they weren't even trying. It reminded me of Brad Pitt's character in the film "Sleepers", taking the case against his childhood friends to tank it and get them off. All the state's witnesses, just about, ended up benefiting Zimmerman more than hurting him. Until the closing remarks, they basically seemed to not even want to be there.
So I understand why the jury found it easy to let him off. If you only followed the two sides presenting the case, then I can see where you may come away with the impression that Zimmerman was the victim in all this. But I'd also like to think that reasonable human beings can see that a young unarmed Black kid is dead, the victim of a profiling wannabe cop with a gun who killed him.
And what is most infuriating about this, as I mentioned above, is how Trayvon Martin was basically put on trial for his own murder, and found guilty. Trayvon was made to be the suspect here, in the trial of his killer. How does that make sense?
Over the past few days I've gotten a flurry of hits on an older post I did on Trayvon right after it happened. The visitors are almost universally finding my blog by typing in the search "Trayvon Martin Criminal History".
Think about that for a moment, would you? Trayvon was the one who is dead. George Zimmerman is the one who shot him. George Zimmerman is the one who has a criminal history of assaulting a police officer. Yet I'm getting ZERO hits from people looking for "George Zimmerman Criminal History".
Why is that? Why does our society view Black males as the enemy? As someone to be afraid of? As the end all be all of danger and evil?
Post-Racial America my ass.
I pray for the Martin family that they can someday have peace. I can't imagine how that will happen, but I still pray for it to happen. Zimmerman will one day have to answer for what he's done, and hopefully then he has a better response then he did when he told Sean Hannity that he had no regrets because he felt it was "God's Plan" that he kill Trayvon, and that his only regret was that Trayvon forced him to kill him.
Also something else to think about, in closing. For all of my friends out there who are people of color, a great point was made last night on the This Week in Blackness special episode that had people calling in and venting their frustrations at what happened. Register to vote. That's how you get on these juries. Too many people don't register to vote, and sadly there seems to be a lot of Black people who are not registered to vote. Some of that is due to the tricks and fuckery that the Republican Party pulls, but a lot of times it seems that people don't want to register to vote for whatever reason.
You may not WANT to be on jury duty, but I think this shows the importance. When a case like this gets judged by five White women and one Hispanic, with NO Black people at all? Maybe it's time for people to reexamine their thoughts on jury duty.
Just a thought.