Trayvon Martin: The Meaning Of It All
As we know, a week ago, a jury in Florida decided to find George Zimmerman not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin. Unfortunately, this was a ruling that many were expecting throughout the trial due to Florida's tough self-defense laws, combined with Stand Your Ground. Now I'm not going to get into the specifics that have been repeated an re-hashed by the media, but into the broader scope on the coverage and what this case means for us as a country.
For one, as expected, vigils and rallies began soon after the reading of the verdict. What didn't happen though? So-called “riots”. Throughout the media, analysts wondered if Sanford,FL was ready for the “unrest”. Guess what happened? Peaceful demonstrations. Not just in Sanford, but throughout the U.S, peaceful demonstrations rose up. Yes, here and there were some scattered violence, as seen in Los Angeles, but far and few between, consisting of only a few hundred, if that many. This put a real damper on the right wing media, expecting Rodney King-esque riots and violence. Some outlets were so disappointed, they stooped as low as posting fake Trayvon Martin riot videos, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/15/1223793/-Darn-No-Post-Verdict-Riots-Post-Video-of-a-Fake-One-Anyway# (posting videos of the Vancouver riots that followed the 2011 Stanley Cup between the Canucks and Bruins). The belief that the country would become “unhinged” proved to be absolutely, positively false. So what was next for the RW (right wing) media?
(Vancouver riots falsely claimed as Trayvon Martin riots)
(actual peaceful demonstration in New York City)
It was to follow-up what they had done throughout coverage of the case, demonize Trayvon Martin, turn him into a “thug”, praise Zimmerman for his actions. They would consistently criticize NBC News and others for their selection of photos “putting Trayvon in a good light”. What many don't see, is that the RW media did the exact same thing, only with an opposite approach. Skimming the photos of Trayvon to put him in a negative light, to show how “scary he looked”. This hypocrisy really shouldn't surprise anyone.
To set things straight, Trayvon Martin was the victim here, not the other way around. RW media has criticized Pres. Obama in his comments for not offering “prayers to Zimmerman's parents”. George Zimmerman is now not only alive, but a free man. They were able to hug and embrace Zimmerman following the verdict. As for Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin? They will never get to hug their son again.
Trayvon Martin wasn't on trial here, however it sure looked that way. As John Guy said in his closing rebuttal “To the dead we owe the truth”. We certainly didn't get that in this case. Zimmerman supporters and the RW media grasped onto the same false narrative that Trayvon somehow caused his own death; bringing up Trayvon's use of marijuana, etc. Irrelevant, all of it. Trayvon Martin was a 17yr old boy, who in his last moments on this Earth was afraid, and rightfully so; being followed in the dark of night by a cop wannabe who was locked and loaded looking to play a hero. Zimmerman had a right to defend himself, they say. What about Trayvon? Zimmerman was the one following Trayvon, not the other way around. Did Trayvon not have the right to stand up for himself and fight for his life?
Looking beyond the specifics, the Trayvon Martin case has opened up a discussion of race in America. A discussion of racial profiling and civil rights. However the RW media will do everything in their power to halt any such discussion. They'll throw out how you're “playing the race card”. They'll cry “reverse racism”. They'll state that somehow African-Americans are perpetuating racism, and need to just get over it. The RW media will try to say that any discussion on racism, any mention of racism, is racist. Try to make that logic work. You can't, because it doesn't. Simply put, those in the GOP perpetuating this don't want this discussion, because it would require some serious soul-searching as a party. It would require opening up old wounds, and facing a dark past head-on. Its much easier to simply ignore. They'll simply act like racial profiling and “white privilege” don't exist. This leads to another area.
If you're white, think about it. Have you ever gotten stares going through a store? Have you ever noticed someone clutching to their belongings, holding their breath until you leave? Cars locking as you walk by? Fearful driving or walking past the police? The answer is mostly no. You don't have to worry. Now step back a moment and try to imagine spending a day in someone else's shoes. Someone who has experienced this, and who has to worry about it. Someone who will have to at one point or another have to sit down with their child about how to deal with these things – http://ideas.time.com/2012/03/21/how-to-talk-to-young-black-boys-about-trayvon-martin/.
This isn't a black issue, or a white issue, its everyone's issue. An issue of a judicial system minus justice. The Trayvon Martin trial on paper was a fair one, with a defense, prosecution, witnesses, judge and jury. We must look beyond to find the injustice, and that's the stereotypes of Trayvon Martin's friend Rachel Jeantel. Its the foundation of Stand Your Ground blended into self-defense law in Florida, and in many other states across the country. Its the RW media putting Trayvon Martin on trial, calling Zimmerman the “true victim”. This is an issue of equality, for everyone to have their fair chance at justice, no matter the color of their skin or their background. Its an issue of violence in this country.
(Dedicated performance of "Forever Young" during a Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z concert)
Looking beyond the judicial and racial aspects, this is an issue of violence. Our youth's innocence has been broken. Where are we safe anymore? On a subway to see New Year's fireworks? Oscar Grant. To visit with our representative in Congress? Tuscon. To see a movie? Aurora. To go to school? Sandy Hook. To go to a gas station to fill up our car? Jordan Davis (the next SYG-self defense case in Florida). To walk to a convenience store to pick up some snacks before a game? Trayvon Martin. When will it end? The time is now. The movement has just begun. A movement to rise up for justice. A movement to represent all of these young men and women, regardless of race or color. As a culture we've become too used to violence, we just turn the other way. Not anymore, it is time to rise up, to use our voice, and speak out for all the Oscar Grant's, the Trayvon Martin's, the Jordan Davis's of the world. Its time that we take a good long hard look in the mirror as a nation. For the first time, we had a President this past Friday talk about race who had experienced profiling. Listen to his words, but don't rely on politicians to get this conversation started. Talk to your friends, your family, your children. “Our children are better at these issues then we are, then we were” - Obama. And that is the truth. We have become and will continue to become a greater nation. The time is now.
(Beyonce's performance at the United Nations of "I Was Here")
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable...Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.