Sunday, August 4, 2013

I am not Trayvon Martin

I haven't written a post about the aftermath of Zimmerman's acquittal in his murder of Trayvon Martin. Readers know I have written somewhat extensively about the case. I did get caught up in the evidence, the facts, thinking that surely reasonable people would be able to clearly see what happened if they just paid attention, if they simply used their heads. It may sound naive, but I truly believed. I felt real hope that justice would prevail.

Well, I was wrong. Breaking news: people are stupid. So here I am, finally, to write my own reaction to the verdict.

We've all heard the dangerous ignorance and stupidity of Juror B37, we read about Juror B29 and her crocodile tears vs. disingenuous heartbreak, and we saw the nationwide protests again this injustice from millions of Americans of all backgrounds.

Yet, in the end, what I discovered was that my country is not a land of justice and liberty for all. Freedom? Equality? In the aftermath of Trayvon Martin's second murder (via character assassination helpfully provided by conservative media) and Zimmerman's release, what I've learned in a way that no other event in my lifetime as an American has been able to teach me...

My country is wrong. My country is so wrong that the sheer weight of it cracks my bones at night when I think of this poor kid, gunned down like an animal by a paranoid racist vigilante. The stink of it flares my nostrils at every passing comment about the case, saying poor Zimmerman, it was an accident. The overwhelming injustice fills my blood with boiling oil, rushing along vein to artery, until my heart is coated in flames and disgust.

But I am not Trayvon Martin. The night after the verdict, I went for a walk to grab a slurpee. Had my hoodie on, cruising at a brisk pace. Y'know what happened? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Only in America.

Meanwhile, I fear for any kids I may have with my fiance (who is a Black woman) and will, in all likelihood, will be considered Black as Barack Obama is considered Black. What will I tell them? How will I keep them safe from being shot just because they wanted a late-night slurpee?

The fear in my chest may be far off, for now. Yet I cannot stop my anger, my rage, my terror... I can no longer hide myself from the fact that I live in a country of murderers, cowards, and idiots. More importantly, I live in a country where such people are not only applauded, they are protected! They are vindicated! But the innocent victim? They are forgotten. Or worse, debased in order to justify their unjustifiable fate.

It reminds me of a poem by Martin Niemöller. To paraphrase...
First they came for the socialist,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the unions,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't in a union.

Then they came for Black people,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't Black.

Then they came for for the Jews; then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

...Regardless, I have hope that someday, "justice" will prevail. But it won't be today. Probably not tomorrow. And maybe not even ten years from now. But someday. Hopefully. Maybe. If we fight... if we struggle. If we honor and continue the actions of our history's heroes... Dr. King, Gandhi, Frantz Fanon, Abba Kovner.

So it's am embittered hope I hold now. Tainted, tarnished, tattered, and even a little torn. That will have to be enough, I guess. Because yesterday was the tragedy. Today is the mourning. Tomorrow will be the living.


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