The non-guilty verdict of the murder of Trayvon Martin left me cold, hurt, and outraged. Like thousands of others, I held an iota of hope that the judicial system of Florida would declare “guilty” towards George Zimmerman and his tempestuous decision to kill Martin. At best, an eager nation would be reassured we are still in good hands. I almost feel foolish in having just written that, for having believed in Florida. The shocking verdict of this case, on which Zimmerman was cleared of ALL accounts touched many to their core and the bevy of reasons are so multi-layered, a rainbow of individuals have expressed illuminated dismay at how this next chapter of American calamity has came to.
I’ll be honest. When this case fist began to infiltrate the news, I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. Topically, I heard about the incident but all I could do was furrow my brows. So I bought that issue of People magazine with Martin’s school picture on the cover to learn more from a non-irritable and super angled source like those cable news stations that have maintained their ability to make you feel like a headless chicken in your own damn living room.
Of course, I felt sad for Trayvon, but admittedly bewildered. It appeared so out of nowhere, so evil. It was one of many instances of “implicit bias” or tragedies that I can never wrap my head around that human being would allow to occur. Once the trial got in motion, it was a downpour of details that left me shaken. All he had on him was bag of Skittles? Lord have mercy, I may never look at those candies the same way again. Zimmerman claimed self-defense, b pursued Martin despite going against police orders? I couldn’t believe any of it. Fast forward to the Saturday night, of July 13, after weeks of spewing “Throw the book at him!” towards the TV and many online updates, I actually read the shocking news on a gossip site I frequently visit for escapism. Expecting to read the latest inane celebrity tidbits I was ready to guffaw at, there it was: BREAKING, and I proceeded to read what I hoped wouldn’t be a repeat of history and instead confirmation this was the home of the brave.
The state of Florida had turned me into a shook one. No. Not this. Anything, but this horrendous verdict. What have they done? Why did the board decide on a full-fledged Not Guilty? Even the President, who released a statement, though the lines struggled with his response in trying to be the impartial leader to a nation of hurt Americans.
My mind was doing laps upon laps with thoughts. My God. I began to think. What if that was someone I knew. An old chum from elementary school. My cousin. My brother. Fifteen years from now, what if that was my son. Shit. What if…that was me? I know I’ve had more than a few late night runs to the gas station convenience store for my much coveted duo of Hostess chocolate cupcakes and ginger ale back in Brookline Village. The case seemed closer to home than ever before and I can recall more than any other time since my birth, I felt so betrayed and unsafe in my country. I may be miles and miles away from Florida, but if bullshit like this was still occurring, how far was I really?
When I finally reached home after a train ride that felt tense because some had predicted riots if Zimmerman was found Non Guilty, I walked home in steps of fury, and my mind wouldn’t rest. Every other thing passed my mind to the case. Past historical events. Certain songs. How the law was meant to protect and bring solutions, not further instigate impassioned feelings of perpetual injustice. How its become more abundantly evident that we DO NOT LIVE in a post-racial America since Obama’s presidency (and I never liked the term anyway. It just glowed with naivete). I never thought I would be observing a case that mimicked Emmett Till’s. This was too blindsiding, and I stayed up ’til 5am the next day.
One of the most recurring thoughts were songs that talked of injustice, especially regarding black men in America. Naturally, 2Pac’s “Changes” was soon searched on YouTube, and it was chilling how ten plus years later, his lyrics still resonated and quite frankly predicted the future of how Zimmerman’s acquittal would be viewed by the many devastated by it:
“Pull the trigger, kill a nigga, he’s a hero”.
I only felt safe right then and there atop of my bed, away from the cold world where apparently a life lived by a black person did not matter. I thought this was 2013.
I also instantly remembered the introspective “Imagine” by Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, featuring D’Angelo on the chorus. There was a specific line that especially spoke of Florida’s insensitive laws, but was rapped in frustration to the still unsolved crimes of the deaths of The Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac:
“Imagine a mother struggling. Dealing with a system that don’t give a fuck who shot her son”.
And look at what we’ve got here today. The system knows and they still don’t give a fuck who shot Sybrina Martin’s son. And this case is so much more than an issue of racism in America, it is about morals, and right vs. wrong, though the racial factors are so strong, it would be hard to ignore as a part of the problem even if you tried. This wasn’t like with OJ Simpson where a percentage of black people defended Simpson out of pure embarrassment for having made every black man in America, young and old, once again the usual suspects. It was more so close to the bodega shooting of Latasha Harlins, followed by the beating of Rodney King, which all lead to the infamous L.A. riots in 1992, and still different on a larger scale, because even Caucasians nationwide were infuriated with the results of “Non-guilty”.
I began to sweat. Do black families now have to worry that their children may not come home? I also visited Twitter and Facebook where the dialogue was laced with anger and pessimism of feeling Martin was held in front of a system that was designed to not protect because he was black. Those kind of thoughts were hard to acknowledge. Just because the thought has crossed our minds doesn’t make it right or acceptable. Our laws should be designed to protect the human race, not categorical divisions of it. I also came across some ominous tweets about the aftermath of life for Zimmerman, the most jolting from one-half of acclaimed rap duo Mobb Deep, Prodigy, who tweeted:
what the justice system won’t do, the streets will
I also read just in time the sudden death of Glee star Cory Monteith at the age of 31, so all in all it was a rough night emotionally that had me questioning much of what I thought I knew, what I still believed to be veracious even in this cruel world, and the verdict also sparked a need in me to re-educate myself. Read more books, get re-acquainted with the iconoclasts of black history and activists and activism of the 20th century. The case of Trayvon Martin has touched my pulse in way I didn’t see coming. What will come now that the verdict is out, only the rest of 2013 will tell. For Martin’s family, on behalf of so many of us, we are sorry. Let’s continue to protest…peacefully.
–C. Shardae Jobson (@lavishrebellion)