Saturday, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty in the case of George Zimmerman. Given the manner in which this case was mishandled from the very beginning, I was not surprised by the outcome. However, I could not keep from hoping that justice would prevail. After the jury was selected, my hope went out the window. Besides there only being one minority selected, there were NO men. How can we possibly say that this jury was made up of his peers. Is Zimmerman’s community made up of only white women? THIS IS NOT A BLACK ISSUE. THIS IS AN ISSUE OF RIGHT AND WRONG. And unless we address it in that way, we limit the scope in addressing a much greater issue and diminish its impact. Martin Luther King dreamed of a day when people would be judged by the content of their character, and not the color of their skin. This verdict makes people feel that Florida is trying to tell America to keep dreaming. And to justify this disgrace, they attempt to sully this child’s reputation by discussing things like the reason he may have been at his Dad’s girlfriend’s house, and whether or not he smoked marijuana. According to the defense, Trayvon’s death was his own fault for getting into a fight with George Zimmerman, painting an image of a thug. Whatever Trayvon’s issues were with school and whether or not he smoked marijuana is irrelevant. He was a child, and should have been treated as such; as a child, Zimmerman should have been trying to help him develop good character, not hunting him down like a criminal. He was not breaking any laws, and had a right to run from someone who just starts to chase him, he even has a right to fend them off. If that means punching the aggressor in the nose, so be it. Zimmerman’s immaturity and inexperience cost this child his life. Zimmerman acted negligently by following this child when the authorities instructed him not to, and given the outcome, should have been punished for doing so.
So now what? Protests have erupted across the nation. Protesting is a good way to show that we are not happy with the outcome, however, we must also be strategic with our approach for resolving this matter. This case demonstrates the flaws in our justice system, compounded with the attack on women’s rights, and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, some people are calling for the “nuclear option” within our legislature. Meaning, they simply want to blow everything up and start from scratch. I strongly believe this to be a HUGE mistake. We have one of the greatest systems in the world. It may be flawed, but it works. We just need it to work for all people; even if it was not originally designed to do so, the time is now. Starting from scratch seems like the easiest approach, however, its the approach that WILL leave the US standing as a third world nation. This is a great time to find out what part you can really play in improving our situation. We should all be evaluating our lives and asking ourselves, am I really doing all that I can do? Am I being the best me that I can be? True change starts with each one of us. Trayvon and Zimmerman were both afraid of what they did not know. Each one of us has a responsibility to educate ourselves on the array of cultures that exist around us. We are all different, and that is what makes the USA awesome. People will often find the things that they seek. I challenge my community to seek the good in each person you meet, regardless of how they look, dress, or talk. We are all here to serve for the greater good. However, none of us will be able to live up to our full potential if we actively work to oppress someone else, because we fear what we do not know. If you sit back and watch it being done and say nothing, you are just as guilty as the oppressor.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” – Martin Luther King Jr.
This photo, created by Nikkolas Smith, really captures the spirit of this moment. Nikkolas stated, “The Dream will never die. It is more powerful than fear or violence. It can never be swindled away or destroyed. It is one of Love, and therefore timeless.” I could not agree more.