Thoughts on the Trayvon Martin Verdict... What now? / by Shanelle Gabriel

My friends...

Many of you are used to my twitter rants about current events and issues that I'm passionate about. There is no rant for this extremely disappointing and discouraging situation. A young man was killed with no recourse. The thing that breaks my heart isn't actually the verdict, that George Zimmerman will be free, or that the gun that killed a boy who could have easily been in one of my classes or on my block or at a show will be given back to the person that knowingly and willingly ended this promising young man's life. What breaks my heart is that I was right...

I knew the verdict would be not guilty, although the blindly optimistic part of me wanted to believe in justice, in the idea that a Black boy could be viewed as more than a threat and more like a human being. We are all pointing to a strong defense and a weak prosecution, however, just based off of the transcript from Zimmerman's initial interrogation with the police, he should have been convicted. There are many good people who go to jail for bad decisions, so all of the hooplah about how wonderful a person he was was unnecessary. And the fact that race was struck from being a factor in the case ignores the true reason for Zimmerman's aggression, recognizing that Whites AND Non-Whites are subject to racial bias and prejudice. The Stand Your Ground laws have widely been used to justify murder, but have shown a racial bias in the courts where according to a June 2012 study, 73% of people who killed a black person walked away with no penalty, compared to 59% of those who killed a white victim. Let's not forget how the courts didn't want to apply the law to Marissa Alexander's case where she fired WARNING shots after being attacked by an abusive partner and ended up getting a 20 year jail sentence. This law in itself is broken and applied where the interests best serve non-Blacks, so Zimmerman getting off should not have been a surprise. My blind-faith hoped maybe, just maybe the jury would have seen that Trayvon was not an aggressor and was very much standing his ground against a 209 lbs strange man who never announced himself as he stalked and followed him. I'm not angry... I'm numb. I want to feel something. 

This post isn't about stating the facts of the case. It's over. There's more his family can do, but I'm more concerned with the young Black men that are still alive, facing discrimination and prejudice, being denied their basic human rights, and focused on finding ways to make sure they survive in a world that doesn't want them to. Forget wearing hoodies. How about not crossing the street when you see a group of Black men on the corner? What about fighting public policy that unfairly marks our children as criminals ready to be stopped and frisked? How about actually getting to know the young people in our communities instead of just complaining about them and/or mentoring the kids that actually need it (not the stellar students from charter schools but the students in our failing public schools)? We don't realize how much of the prejudice exists within our own minds until we truly sit back and take a look at our values and actions. Many of us have fell subject to the "those punks" mentality just as Zimmerman did rather than seeing a younger version of ourselves, casually going through life, in transition, and a well of possibility. My prayer is that after the marches stop for the racism that for some reason we forgot has always been there, we don't stop making the small yet HUGE movements to change the futures of the youth around us. Please don't let Trayvon's death have been in vain.