Sunday, July 14, 2013

Toya's Thoughts on the Zimmerman Verdict

Tia was in town last night for the Beyonce' concert and I met up with her downtown afterwards. As she walked towards me, she burst into tears. I had a feeling as to why but as I hugged her, I asked her what happened. Brandon who was standing behind her answered, "Just... everything. Everything that is going on." Tia and I both have brothers. If I was a crier (at times like these I wish I was), we probably both would have fallen into the street a complete mess over the Zimmerman trial verdict,

It sucks when expecting the worst out of a situation does not lessen the pain of when the worst happens.

I am going to say something that is not going to be nice or popular and that's fine: there are plenty things in this world I will agree to disagree with. I feel I have my right to believe what I want. I respect others rights to believe what they want. But I am letting you know right now today that the outcome of this Zimmerman trial is by no means something that I will agree to disagree with at all. In fact if you happen to think that justice was ultimately served in this, please unfriend me now on Facebook, Twitter and most definitely in real life. This is non-negotiable. I am okay with it. I just can't have people in my personal space that think that George Zimmerman going free is okay. I am completely incapable. I just...*shakes head* I don't understand what some people don't understand.

Facts are facts. They just are. No one had to have been at the scene of the crime or in the courtroom. Interestingly enough, I have never heard anyone use the "no one was at the scene of the crime" foolishness in regards to the OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony cases. Based on the facts alone, it makes absolutely no sense that George Zimmerman is free right now and Michael Vick gets years in prison for dog fighting. The fact that he still gets death threats for that alone shows the value that our society puts on the lives of young black men.

How can anyone say that race is not a factor in this? I find it particularly interesting how I don't hear that race is not a factor from my friends with bi-racial children, especially white parents of bi-racial children. It's because they know better. But it saddens me to think that perhaps one would have to be connected personally to a black child to see that the entire climate of this thing is racial. I don't see how I could really articulate that to someone that can't see that. That won't see that. Let's say two people, one a bible believing Christian and one an atheist, disagree on a matter and the only defense the Christian can come up with is "well the bible says..." That is going to mean nothing to the atheist because the bible does not affect their worldview. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that the bible is not practical. I believe it is. What I am saying is that it's hard to live in what is your reality and try to convince someone whose life is governed by a completely different set of rules (and privileges) that, albeit yours, it is indeed a reality. Furthermore, it's not just black people that know that this is about race. I can look at my timeline and see many of my friends of different racial backgrounds that believe that it is. Do you know who else believes it is? The plenty of hateful racists who are overjoyed with this outcome because for them it is and has always been about race hence the hateful video games, websites, shooting range targets, Facebook pages and such that have been made saying that Trayvon Martin deserved to die and that paint George Zimmerman as a hero.

I am not going to argue that on the grounds of self defense that it was proven that George Zimmerman did not defend himself. The anger and outrage and hurt is about the fact, the FACT, that had he never gotten out of the car after being told not to, then he would not have had to practice self defense at all and an unarmed child would not be dead. How does one NOT go to jail for that? If it's not about race, then look at the recent case of Marissa Alexander; a black woman in Jacksonville, FL (what is wrong with Florida???) who fired a warning shot in self defense against her abusive husband and is now facing 20 years for attempted murder. How is she not covered under the Stand Your Ground law? This woman fired a warning shot in self defense against a man that she had a protective order against because he had beaten her before. He was a proven threat. Trayvon Martin was not. Even if you can still sit there and say that this is not about race, how can anyone look at these two cases and deny how incredibly screwed up our justice system is?

Another reason that I know this is about race, and this is not going to be a very popular statement either, is that I know at times I have prejudged some black men by the way they look. If I am the only black woman who will admit this publicly then so be it but I know I am not the only one. And for this reason after I heard the verdict I wanted to run out into the middle of the street and hug every single black man I saw. I wanted to cry and kiss them on the cheek and tell them that I am so sorry. I am so so so very sorry. Because again in regards to a person's reality that you may not completely ever understand, the message that this verdict sends out to black men everywhere serves as not shock like it may for so many of us. It serves as just another reminder that their lives aren't seen as valuable. Well not unless you play ball really well or can sing, or do what makes others see you as a non-threatening Negro. But even so at the end of the day, the reality is that black men are marked men from birth so I am not seeing it for me bearing any sympathy whatsoever for George Zimmerman who will now get a taste of the same thing. I just don't have it in me at all.

Our justice system has just told this man and others that think like him that what he did was 100% right. You think this doesn't serve as some sort of go ahead?

Our justice system has just told millions and millions of kids that what happened to Trayvon Martin is 100% right. How can any child feel safe?

This goes so much deeper than self defense and I wish people would really really consider that before they try to get legally technical. Legal technicalities are incapable of having any regard for the value of human life.

So what do we do now? I have no quick solutions. There are no quick ones. I will say that as black people we need to love each other more. We need to watch how we talk to and about each other. I remember reading how singer Miguel said that black people are some of the most judgmental people in the world when it comes to our own. He was absolutely right. I was watching Wattstax the other day thinking "What happened? Look how beautiful this is!" They've said that this is a generation that sits idly by while things happen and many have wondered why there haven't been many protests or rallies. I don't want to march. I don't want to rally. I want change. While change involves everyone, I truly believe that it has to start with us as a people and I dare say it starts with our men. In a world that constantly screams the opposite, it has to start with them because they are valuable, strong, amazing, beautiful and capable leaders whose time has come to stand up. I pray that we seek God's wisdom for how to make things better. I pray that we, (me first because I really need it today) can learn forgiveness and can move past hurt to see things through the eyes of love. We can't point fingers. We just need change.

"How cool would it be to live in a world where George Zimmerman offered Trayvon Martin a ride home to get him out of the rain that night?" -Jermaine Paul


Anonymous said...

I agree, I am so hurt by the verdict and I feel compelled to do something because there must be change but I have no idea where to begin.

jeanette nicole* said...

This is amazing. Every single bit of it. Thank you for writing, Toya!

laughing808 said...

I greatly appreciate this eloquent post, very thought provoking.

I agree that there's no quick solution and that we need our men to stand up and start leading.

Any effective change will only come about from a collective effort. We've got to change our mentalities, how we raise our kids and show more respect to each other. They are doing to us what they see us do to each other.