“Not Guilty!” Nine letters that changed the world the night of July 13th, 2013. I believe it was around 10:30pm when I perused twitter only to discover the disappointing verdict of the Zimmerman trial via tweets and trending topics. I then went online to see the video recording of the verdict being read aloud by the all-female jury. Immediately after the verdict came in, a megastorm of tweets, Facebook status updates, and blog posts flooded the web. There were anti-Zimmerman comments, anti-Trayvon comments, and anti-Florida comments. Just about anything related to the trial that could have an opposition was spoken of and bared the wrath of heightened emotions and amplified scrutiny. I watched as Facebook friends and twitter followers alike shared their anger, frustration, disdain and all out hatred of the verdict. And as I watched tempers flare and hopes for justice dwindle in 140 characters or less, I sat back and thought to myself, “2013. Just how far have ‘WE’ come?”
When I say the “world” changed, I am not actually referring to the entire globe. Although I am sure the Zimmerman trial was popularized and possibly sensationalized via the media abroad. I am specifically referring to the impact the case and eventual verdict had on the citizens of the United States. Many people have taken sides and emotions are running so high that I can almost feel the racial tension in the air. While I admit I was disheartened and ashamed at the verdict and the demeanor of Zimmerman’s brother, legal team and Zimmerman himself after it was determined he would “get away with murder”, I was not surprised. This is because America has a dark history that was built on the births and deaths of black bodies. When I think of America’s terrible past and recall images of black people in bondage on plantations, slave ships and auction blocks in a time we are actually not that far removed from, it does not surprise me that a man – who the majority of America and probably Zimmerman himself consider white (when it’s opportune) – would get away with killing a black, male teenager.
Within the last 48 hours I have probably read hundreds of Facebook statuses, comments and tweets about the verdict and what it means to be black in America and I feel like this case has brought many repressed emotions and underlying feelings to light, reinforcing what I already knew: Black bodies, especially young black males are devalued in American society. I won’t speak for other people. But, this is how I felt after I heard the verdict. And non-black people try to say the case is not about race, but it honestly is. When a black woman in Florida gets sentenced to 20 years in prison simply for firing warning shots in her home to fend off her abusive husband and protect herself and her children, there is substantial evidence of racial favoritism within the justice system. And I can’t help to bring up race and color when a black man (Troy Anthony Davis) gets executed in the state of Georgia for the accused death of a police officer, where witnesses accusations were later recanted and evidence was brought up that the cops killer was more than likely the original accuser. And there are many other stories throughout history where white favoritism in the justice system and America as a whole can be seen i.e.: Rodney King, Sean Bell, Amadou Bailo Diallo, and many more. In those cases justice was also not served. The police in those cases were not charged and never saw a day in jail.
All of these situations and circumstances lead me to believe that black bodies are not valued as much as their white counterparts. After all, black men’s chances of being arrested for a crime are significantly higher than that of their white counterparts. We (black men) also serve more severe sentences than any other group of people in America for similar crimes. Clearly, there is a double standard in this country and it leans in the favor of non-black citizens. I feel like the verdict to this trial has opened many people’s eyes to the level of inequality in America. It causes me to ask, “Are we regressing back to the era where there was a need for boycotts, demonstrations, sit-ins and far more radical means of creating ‘Change’?” Do we (black people) need to make it more apparent to the masses that equality in 2013 is not a privilege, but a human right?! These are just some of the many questions that boggled my mind and the main reason I became so upset after I discovered the not guilty verdict.
I was also puzzled by the notion that a jury filled with women – assumed to be the more sympathetic and caring gender – would deliver a not guilty verdict. I questioned, “What if it was their son?” “What if Trayvon Martin was a white child named Billy Hall and George Zimmerman was a black man named Jamal Jenkins?” Given the history of black on white violence in America I am almost certain if Zimmerman was a black man and Trayvon was a white teen and all other parts and facts of the case remained the same, Zimmerman would have at the very least been found guily of something and improsoned. Especially considering Zimmerman has had prior run-ins with the law. America is supposed to be a land that is…”Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” But, it seems at some point they forgot the “All” part.
HOW DO YOU FEEL? As usual feel free to post your thoughts on the trial or anything else related to this post. But, I do ask that if you decide to post a comment please be respectful of me and other readers. This is a hate free zone. Opinions are warranted. But, bashing, name calling or any other disrespectful comments will get deleted.