I awoke this morning to discover that George Zimmerman has been acquitted of second degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. I wasn’t in the least bit surprised because for as long as I have been alive, Black life has been cheap. It’s a hard truth, but it’s the reality with which I live, with which all children of the African Diaspora live. The phrase “I Am Trayvon Martin” has become very popular and this is because he literally could have been any of us. Some worry that this verdict will embolden racists to target Blacks, but I wonder when have we ever not been a target? From chains to a Black president, Blackness continues to be under assault.
I find the only thing that brings me even the slightest bit of relief is the fact that I am Canadian and my sons are Canadian. At 12, Destruction is five foot five and would not look much different from Trayvon in the same circumstances. Like all mothers, I worry about his safety, but our much more rigid gun laws would more than likely mean that no neighbourhood watch cop wanna be, would take his life for simply existing. The glorification and absolutely masturbatory fascination Americans have with guns, combined with a White supremacist culture, which purposefully criminalizes and cheapens the lives of Black children before they can even take their first breath, are directly responsible for the violent unnecessary murder of Trayvon Martin.
Being a Canadian, I watched the circus of a trial unfold from a distance. There are most certainly large differences in American and Canadian law, though we share a symbiotic relationship in many ways, but what I saw before me was a farce. George Zimmerman may have been accused of murder, but it was Trayvon Martin who went on trial. How is it that the person who ended up dead, and therefore unable to speak for themselves was criminalized? We learned about pictures of Trayvon Martin holding guns, about THC in his system and suspensions from school. It was not long before he was turned into a drug dealing thug, who Zimmerman graciously saved the world from having to deal with. What I want to know, is how is any of this is relevant to what happened that fateful night? Zimmerman would have known none of this as he approached Trayvon, in direct contradiction of police instructions. The only thing that Zimmerman knew for an unequivocal fact, is that Trayvon Martin was Black.
He purposefully stalked Trayvon, creating a situation which ended in
death but somehow he is not culpable? Had Zimmerman only listened to the
911 dispatcher, Trayvon would be alive today, but in a world in which every Black person is born a threat, Zimmerman felt emboldened to act. Even after the fact, he could not admit the mistake he made and instead we had to listen to some cooked up story about self defense. How can someone claim self defense, when they started the situation to begin with? If Zimmerman felt in true peril, it is only because he is a racist. Zimmerman benefited from a system which has no interest in justice for people of color. Stop and Frisk Laws as well as the Stand Your Ground Law under which Zimmerman got away with murder, exist only to oppress and criminalize Black and Brown people.
You would think that after the controversial verdict of not guilty had been delivered by the all White jury that the Zimmerman family would finally let Trayvon rest in peace, but the character assassination continued on Pierce Morgan. In a discussion regarding Trayvon’s actions the night he was slain, Robert Zimmerman told Morgan and Lemon:
“I want to know if it’s true, and I don’t know if it’s true, that
Trayvon Martin was looking to procure firearms, or growing marijuana, or
looking to make lean.”
This is what Robert extrapolated from a hoodie and a packet of sweeties. How can this be rational? Yet, we had White conservatives celebrating and calling it a defeat for the supposedly liberal media. Lost in their zeal is the anguish of yet another set of Black parents, who have lost their beloved child forever and the fear of Black parents across the diaspora that their child could be next.
I say child, because that is what Martin was and the only reason he was not perceived as such is his race. Can you imagine an all White jury arriving at the same not guilty verdict, had the victim been a White kid from the suburbs and the perpetrator Black? No one would even have had to rally for an arrest had that been the case, let alone watch this farce of justice that supposedly represented a trial. Was there ever any hope of justice with a jury of all White women – women who have been raised to see Black males as the predator who jumps out of the bushes to harm them – women who have been indoctrinated to believe that only their children have value?
Slowly this story will slip off the front pages of newspapers and the networks will end their round the clock coverage, moving onto yet another tragedy that they can report on. The coldness of the grave does not bring ratings like sensationalism. The only people who cannot walk away, who cannot forget, are those who knew and loved Trayvon. For them, this will be a never ending nightmare because not only did they not get justice, they cannot get their loved one back. They don’t even have the cold comfort of believing that Trayvon’s death will lead to change because this trial has proven soundly that he is just another, in a long list of Black youths, whose lives and deaths are meaningless in a White supremacist world.