It felt like OJ all over again. I felt the same shock and numb disbelief. When OJ was acquitted I was in college, at work. I was making pizzas when the TVs announced the eminent verdict. I left the counter and took a broom into the restaurant. I pretended to be working, halfheartedly sweeping, and staring at the TV. There were people all around me, studying, having dinner, watching the case unfold. When they said NOT GUILTY I had to sit down, the strength went out of my legs. Really? That was all I could think. A murderer was walking away free and clear. I feel that way again now.
This time I was playing around on Twitter when I heard about the George Zimmerman trial. I saw a two word tweet, “Verdict’s in.” I went to cnn.com immediately and watched the judge wrap up the trial and tell George Zimmerman that he could get his gun back soon. He could get the gun that he used to kill an unarmed CHILD with. I was sitting down this time, but I still felt like I should sit lower. I felt weak. Really? Really?
Poor, poor, baby boy, Trayvon Martin, he did not deserve to die. He was a CHILD! And his murderer deserves jail time. We all KNOW that George killed Trayvon, nobody contests that. But apparently it’s okay. That is the LAW in Florida. If you stalk a young man and start a fight with him, you can also kill him. He stalked that child. Isn’t it all of our worst nightmares to be followed in the dark? The police told him not to go. George went and started a fight anyway. Trayvon was fighting for his life. It’s not defense if you start the fight. Except that now it is, in Florida and probably a couple of other states too.
In the Commonwealth we have a “Castle Law” that allows you to defend yourself on your property. Zimmerman was not on his own property. Trayvon was not breaking in to his home. Trayvon was walking home. This was not just about justice for a dead child, but it is also about engrained racism. George Zimmerman first profiled Trayvon Martin because he was black, wearing a hoodie, and looking out of place in a gated community.
He thought Trayvon was threatening because he was black. He thought he was out of place in an upscale community because he was black. Trayvon was in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong color skin. Things would have been very different if Trayvon has been white. But 17 year old white boys in hoodies do not inherently look threatening like Trayvon apparently was.
Young black men are constantly viewed as thugs and delinquents simply because of the color of their skin. This is NOT a post racial society. Only racists think that this is not about race. I know more racists than I am comfortable with. I am ashamed of just knowing them.
I remembered how it felt when the Police that beat Rodney King were acquitted, the air electrically charged with outrage. I could feel the sorrow and rage that swelled with this verdict. Twitter exploded! People were posting George Zimmerman’s address and making threats. It was horrifying to watch. I hoped that there would not be riots. Riots only lead to more deaths. We have had too many deaths already.
Trayvon’s Dad tweeted within minutes of the verdict. He was not angry, as he had the right to be. He thanked everyone for caring about his son’s life. My heart was broken. Someone else tweeted, “The fundamental danger of an acquittal is not more riots, it is more George Zimmermans.”
I am selfishly and shamefully relieved that my own son is fair skinned. How terrible it is to be the mother or father of a brown baby boy today.
Dear Young Black Men, Be Safe. You are no longer safe to walk home alone after dark.