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Zimmerman trial exposes racial injustice

George Zimmerman (left) and Trayvon Martin

George Zimmerman (left) and Trayvon Martin

If you didn’t know, now you know, we are not a post-racial United States. In fact, all this post-racial, Black president foolery has lulled much of America, including Black folks, to believe race doesn’t matter anymore.

For many younger people, tired of older people’s so-called divisive racial rhetoric, who believed they had finally overcome, or at least didn’t have to “talk about it anymore,” were quickly hurt when one of their own was killed and Florida laws and a jury allowed the killer to walk away.

The only people who stand to gain from not talking about race or acknowledging past wrongs is white Americans who blissfully enjoy white privilege.

The Trayvon Martin verdict reminds us of exactly what kind of America we live in and exactly how far we have not come. We still live in a country where Black life is cheap, disposable and worthless to almost everyone but ourselves — and a lot of times to us, too.

The verdict reminded us of how we live in fear for our children and ourselves. How at any moment we could all, but especially Black men, become victim to some paranoid psychotic or regular Joe who, after years of racist imagery, stereotype and bias, could glean their subconscious and blast us away. And get away with it because everyone could understand how we are a threat.

Unfortunately, this fear is codified, protected and reinforced in our laws and culture.

For many of us engaged with social media, the verdict offered up a divide some of us hadn’t seen in years.

For those who saw the reaction to the O.J. Simpson verdict, a moment when white and Black America reacted completely differently to the same event, this was a crack we knew existed but hadn’t seen in some time. Then, like now, most acted shocked that this could happen — how could the same event be understood so differently?

Social media gave us insight into exactly who and what we are.

Black men came forward with impassioned stories of their own sadness and despair of constantly being seen as violent. How a part of their existence included making others feel comfortable with them and how they despise this dance of nuance and perception.

Part of the actual injustice is that, as usual, when something happens to Black people, our reaction is what can we do to make it better. What additional responsibility can we take on; what hadn’t we thought of before. Mothers, already worried, wondered what else they could warn their kids about.

Yet, there was a large number of people who came out in support of the jury, the justice system and “our country of laws.” President Barack Obama, unforgivably, in his last term, falls into this category. As if reasoning and a reliance on systems, without criticism, was the judicious way we should all accept the verdict.

To those people, who take this type of medicine, why would you not acknowledge jury bias and all the ways in which the justice system disadvantages Black people? Let’s count the many ways in which juries contribute to mass incarceration. None of these “Respect the Law-types” even mentioned hate crimes.

They just used these petty laws to beat people — like what has been done in the past.

We support a federal hate crime case against George Zimmerman. And if that doesn’t work, the Supreme Court needs to, again, test and strengthen hate crime laws to account for the ways racism works today. Even though the jury didn’t discuss race in the Martin case, it does not mean it doesn’t exist.

 

 

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