As a mother, community member, concerned citizen, and person in America, it is impossible to escape the numbing feeling of sadness that comes over me when I think of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman situation. Like so many others, I cannot help but to feel that justice was not truly served. There were so many mistakes made here, from the initial encounter between the victim and his killer to the strategies used in the trial. Despite my legal background, I have no intention of attempting to argue the merits of the case here. I will, however, say this. When you stalk an unarmed person, following them and almost certainly intimidating them against the advisement of the emergency operator on the other end of your line, and that person defends against your advances, you should not be able to respond with murder and then claim self defense. That’s my opinion and it’s not really up for debate.
Moving along, however, I’d really like to shift the focus a bit. Young Trayvon’s death is indeed a tragedy, there are no two ways about that. However, within that tragedy lies the opportunity to bring to light a serious problem that exists today. I don’t mean the “Stand Your Ground” law or the obvious deficiencies in our justice system, rather, the complete disregard and lack of respect for human life in general. We are all in an uproar about the death and dishonor of Trayvon Martin (as well we should be) but let us not forget about the thousands of other people that are killed every year here in the United States. Violence in our communities has become all too commonplace and the days of sensibly resolving issues seem to be too far behind us. I worry that if we do not begin to show that we love ourselves and respect the value of life, then we can’t expect anyone else to do the same.
So, just as we have been inspired to demand that our voice be heard regarding Trayvon, we should be equally as inspired to start a movement in honor of all of our fallen brethren. When will we come to a place where slaying our brothers and sisters is no longer acceptable? No longer commonplace? The Trayvon Martin movement has shown us once again that we can be thoughtful, united, peaceful, engaged, open minded, and powerful beyond measure. But this energy and enthusiasm cannot die when the mainstream media decides to move on to the next big story. We should be outraged ANY TIME a life is taken senselessly, just as lives are every day. The daily tragedies currently taking place in Chicago are a heartbreaking example of this. We must move past the temptation to care only when there has been an act of violence perpetrated against us by someone of a different race. Instead, we must demand that we stop killing one another and demand that the system works collectively to address and repair this issue and any factors contributing to it.
Further, we have to be careful to express ourselves in the appropriate way. It is so imperative that we begin to use our voice and our influence to intelligently affect change in our communities. Be thoughtful, courageous, articulate and wise with your words and actions. Burning down our own communities and destroying the property of hard working business owners who are caring enough and willing to provide services or products that we need within our communities is not an effective way to voice your concerns. In fact, it is a distraction and takes away from the momentum of the movement. The frustration is real and understood, but, needs to be expressed in a way that is productive and fruitful. Peaceful demonstrations are so much more meaningful; they allow us to be seen and heard and will draw attention to the issue rather than distract us from it.
There is so much more to be said and done for young Trayvon as well as all the other brothers and sisters that have lost their lives to ignorance and violence. They may not be perfect people, but none of us are. Life is valuable regardless, and we must begin to treat it as such. As the struggle continues, it is my prayer that we will not allow our anger to be misdirected; that we will use this opportunity to dialogue with our young brothers and prepare them for the world-at-large and its misconceptions of them; and that we will equip ourselves with the mental strength needed to continue to fight this large-scale battle.
As we continue going about our lives, my prayers of love and strength are with you and yours… I hope that you will pray for me and mine as well.