Behind the cut because this will get long, painful, ranty, etc. But I cannot keep silent about this. I’m saddened, sickened, and thoroughly disgusted, too much so to keep it quiet.
Two words. Two little words. And those two little words in the Trayvon Martin case are only further proof that justice is irreparably skewed. While there’s a different level of insane in Florida, this is a travesty any way you slice it.
I’ve not followed the Trayvon Martin trial outside of social media updates. I couldn’t watch the news. I simply couldn’t stomach it. The bottom line is, a young black boy got shot. A teenager not unlike any other, and not unlike any of us when we were in our teens. And why did he get shot? Because he walked outside, in a hoodie, when a “neighborhood watchman” decided that he didn’t belong – in Trayvon’s own neighborhood.
George Zimmerman had the gun with him that night with the intent to use it. Don’t give me the self-defense crap about guns; people tend to carry a gun only if they expect to actually use it at that moment. Did George Zimmerman have to carry his gun? No. The cops told him, repeatedly, not to engage Martin. He did anyway. He accosted Martin despite the cops telling him not to, and shot him.
Let’s not make any bones of this: this entire case, start to finish, was about race, and racial stereotypes. A young black kid wearing a hoodie is walking after dark, in his own neighborhood. Someone sees him. And? What next? What’s the scary part? Here’s the thing: There is no scary part here. None! Zip! A kid is outside in a hoodie after dark – and as we have seen, too tragically, the kid was buying candy and iced tea. But apparently, George Zimmerman drank the stereotyping and profiling Kool-aid on this one. Never mind what the situation actually is. Never mind that the kid’s only walking home after dark after buying some candy. The bottom line is this: Trayvon Martin was a black kid walking after dark in a hoodie. That’s all. That’s all there is to it. That was the primary reason that George Zimmerman accosted and killed him: he saw a kid in hoodie and decided that the kid didn’t belong, even though he lived there.
But this is what got to me most: since when is it that the victim is put on trial? Why is it that Trayvon Martin got put on trial in the case of his own murder? How did we, as a society who’s supposedly touting “justice for all”, get to this sort of a degenerative state where a murder victim is blamed for his own demise?
George Zimmerman killed an innocent kid for nothing more than being himself and in his own neighborhood. Let’s not dress it up as manslaughter. Let’s not dress it up as vigilante action. Let’s not dress it up or minimize it. Let’s call it the ugly truth that it is: a white man stalking and murdering a black teenager Even though he was clearly instructed to remain inside his vehicle.
The uglier truth of it is this: everyone who’s been watching this trial, perhaps excepting the people who were actually carrying it out, are very well aware that had Trayvon Martin been white, the case would’ve been open, shut, and dealt with in short order. Instead, what did we have? Let’s see here: the police of Sanford, FL didn’t even arrest George Zimmerman until there was enough of a public outcry. The investigation was bungled start to finish, because the police went on Zimmerman’s word. Zimmerman went on the run, initially, if memory serves. The interrogation, what I saw of it, was ridiculous; not even a rookie cop would conduct it like that.
Why? Because the victim was a young black kid in a hoodie after dark.
And now, his killer has been acquitted, why? Because the trial put the victim into the hot seat. Because it was easier to heckle the friend he had who had to recount and re-live the final phone call, than to hear what she was saying. Because it was just so much easier to believe the stereotype than it was to actually see the murder for what it was.
A young boy is dead. His killer is walking free right now. And I can guarantee you, he’ll kill again. Maybe not right away, but he’ll kill again. He already got away with it once. He got the message loud and clear that he can get away with it. What will stop him a second time? Not a damned thing. What scares me the most is the people like Zimmerman who would follow in his footsteps, because they got the exact same message.
Don’t tell me that Trayvon shouldn’t have worn a hoodie; you can take off a hoodie but you can’t take off your skin. Trayvon was an honor student. He was a typical teenager, no more different than any other. The hoodie isn’t relevant one bit. He lived in the neighborhood. He was a kid buying candy at the local store. No more and no less. Would it be different if it were, say, a white girl in a hoodie? You and I both know that the answer is yes, and that’s the very disgusting part about the entire case. We all know it. We all know that had it been in reverse, it would have had a vastly different outcome.
This verdict is a slap in the face of the uphill battle that the people of color have been fighting in this country since last century, if not even one before the last. This is a message that a black kid in a hoodie is somehow more of a threat than a white man with a gun cruising around the neighborhood. This is, most and saddest of all, a message that a young black man’s life does not matter as much as the white guy “feeling threatened”.
It makes me sick to my stomach and to my soul.
A dark day is in the US today. The lights went out on any illusion of the criminal justice system. Michael Vick got time for what he did to his dogs, rightly, and yet if an abused woman fires a warning shot into the air, she gets twenty years, and a guy who killed a kid for no more than being black and in front of him while he had a gun is walking scot-free. And let’s not even mention the hundreds of men sitting in prison for crimes they didn’t commit, that could be cleared with a DNA test, just because they were the token black guy nearby. What is this, anyway? Some sort of a warp to the 60s?
It’s news like this that make me not want to get out of bed in the morning. The message that a young man’s life is somehow less relevant than the person who took that life is sickening. It’s disgusting at the core level.
The criminal injustice system, indeed. The only place where defending yourself is a crime, where the victim is put on trial for her own ordeal, where you languish on Death Row for a crime you didn’t commit, knowing a DNA swab will clear you, and where a young man can get killed for walking in his own neighborhood and the killer gets away scot-free. This is post-racial, tolerant, accepting America. This is the American criminal justice system right now. The American criminal injustice system, rather. After this, I don’t think there’s any point in pretending that the law will do right by anyone who’s not white and rich enough to hire a legal team. After this, it’s pointless to imagine that justice is blind and equal.
In memoriam, Trayvon Martin. I’m so sorry.
And to my readers: please sign the NAACP petition. Link here: http://bit.ly/18dWrJU If the DoJ opens a civil rights case against Zimmerman, it will still be something. Also sign a petition by MoveOn.org here: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/open-a-civil-rights-case.fb28?source=s.fb&r_by=1639800