Last night when the verdict was released in the George Zimmerman trial I was not surprised as much as I was saddened, and a bit angry. I was sad because everything negative that I knew about our justice system, our nation, and our times was confirmed. People still fail to see the truth, to seek the truth, to use common sense, to be fair, and to acknowledge our natural biases and prejudices.
I often keep my opinion “vocal to a point” on social media and even in person sometimes. I do not intend to be politically correct, but to make an inviting and judgment-free environment, and to prevent offending others who may not take the time to understand my perspective and stance on social issues. So, last night I kept a tight lip on Twitter, projected no lip on Facebook, and was completely silent everywhere else but in the comfort of my own home.
However, I believe injustice continues when we stay silent, and I am not one to stay silent. As a budding media professional, I am briefly straying from the path of objectivity to share my heart with you. I am not out to call anyone names or ridicule them for how they feel about the case or to look down on them if they didn’t follow it in the news. This is not a political blog, but I don’t intend for it to be a neutral blog either, void of emotion, morals, or beliefs. I hope the feelings expressed on this site inspire other people to engage about how they feel.
“Disclaimer” aside, I think the jury made a mistake. I think this case was about fear, and fear overrode rationality. The prosecution and defense both did a good job arguing their sides. I do not think Zimmerman is a racist man. I think he is a man who hates crime, and on the night of the murder I think he was a man who was tired of crime, prejudiced toward those he believed fit the description of a criminal, and void of reason as a result. I think he wanted to stop crime that night, and I think he took it out on an innocent teenager. Unfortunately, he has since showed little remorse and expressed having “no regrets” for what happened.
I think the jury, on the other hand, believed lie after lie from the defense. While Zimmerman’s attorneys brought in a block of concrete and said that Zimmerman was “battered and beaten” by Martin, it was clear that he suffered minor scratches that night. He was given clear orders from 911 to stay in the car and he did not. He exited his vehicle to chase a teenager that until this point had exerted no physical force against him. IF self-defense law really means you can use deadly force against ANY and everything you deem threatening against you (which I don’t think is the true intent of the law), then we live in a very scared and scary society. We are giving citizens the right to kill just because they are scared of someone, scared of something they think will happen, scared of someone they don’t understand. This just means that more murders lie in America’s future.
“A System Cannot Fail Those It Was Never Meant To Protect”
We may not want to think that race played a part in this case, and ideally it should not. But in America, you would be foolish to think that it didn’t. Especially when Zimmerman is a free man and people like Marissa Alexander, John White, Trevor Dooley, and John McNeil are serving hard time. A recent PBS study goes into more detail. This graph, taken from the article, shows just how skewed the numbers really are:
All of these “stand your ground” cases are sad, and my heart aches for all those who died in these shootings and countless others. I don’t think that one person should be convicted over another because of race, age, or gender. I think they should all be convicted or acquitted fairly. And I think the law under which they are judged should be fair as well-to the perpetrator and the victim.
We don’t know what the future holds for George Zimmerman. He is a free man but he may not be safer in the real world than he would be in prison. He may live his life with guilt, or he may not. In an open letter to Zimmerman that is traveling the Internet and social media, Alex Frasor writes,”I bet you never thought that by shooting a black male you’d end up inheriting all of his struggles.” I don’t know how challenging life will be for Zimmerman, but I am sure it won’t be easy.
Where Is The Love?
I don’t love my country any less today than I did yesterday, but I am not any prouder of it either. I don’t hate anyone-I have met too many kind people in life to throw my anger against the world. We seek justice under a man-made system and hope to find truth in the hands of men and women. But truth and justice cannot be found there. Vengeance is not always manifested in the courts.
If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, said the Lord. Therefore if your enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head.
As a society we must stop killing each other. As Black Americans we must stop committing violence, whether it’s in Florida or our own towns. And while we protest and argue over the verdict don’t forget that Martin’s family is still grieving. Don’t forget that in cities like Chicago (where the murder rate is higher than those in New York City and Los Angeles), innocent people are killed every day (200 this year alone), oftentimes without answers, convictions, or justice. We should be fighting just as hard for them.
This time last year I was a college freshman, moved by the tragedy of a young black teenager, two years my junior who I did not know. I marched with fellow students for what I believed was right, and today I am writing because our nation is in a somber time. Our nation is reminded that we don’t always care about one another the way we should. Our nation is realizing what happens when we face all of our problems and fears with guns instead of reason and intellect. Our nation is reminded that we are not perfect. Sometimes we face situations where no one really wins. The price of standing your ground in America is not free. Regardless of who you are and what you believe, that will always be a tough reality to face.