This may not be the most HelloGiggly thing you have ever read, but we were hit with a hard punch of the reality of our country yesterday. George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin yesterday afternoon in a Florida state court, causing much uproar (and still not enough, in my opinion) across our country.
In case you do not follow national news, Zimmerman is a “neighborhood watch coordinator” (a title cringeworthy in itself, in my opinion) for his gated community. Allegedly always quick to call the police, Zimmerman reported that Martin “look[ed] like he [was] up to no good, or he [was] on drugs or something.” Zimmerman got out of his car, confronted Martin and shot him point blank in his heart.
In the child’s heart.
It almost goes without saying, but Trayvon Martin was a young Black man.
You guys, I am struggling. I want to believe this was not a crime concerning racial injustice. I want to believe that Zimmerman’s lawyers, and that the jury itself, are not racists. I want to ignore the similarities between Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till. I want to feel that our country has evolved even a little bit, but I cannot. I cannot believe.
My family is Black, and I would usually defend or sidestep that statement by claiming that it “doesn’t matter,” but it does. It does matter. I am never profiled for anything. I have been told that I do not “look Black,” I simply look like I tan well in the summer sun. I have been told that I don’t “act Black” because I had great grades in high school, and I went to a liberal arts college, and I majored in English Literature, and I work at Starbucks, and I shop at Old Navy, and my girlfriends are nice blonde girls. I have been told that I do not “seem Black” because I listen to pop music, not just hip-hop, and I speak eloquently, and everyone in the world has this stupid image of what a Black person is supposed to be, and I clearly do not fit the rough image everyone in America has created about Black people, but I am gonna spit some truth really quick.
I am a Black person. And a proud Black person, at that. I am a privileged Black person, as well. I am privileged in that I can walk down the street without ever having to worry about being profiled because I don’t “look,” “act,” or “talk” Black. But my brothers do. My older brother “looks, acts and talks” Black. He doesn’t straighten his hair to fit in like I have always shamefully done. He doesn’t dress up because he wants to be perceived as anything other than who he is like I have always admittedly done. He is the smartest man I know, but he speaks with such strong colloquialisms that sometimes even I need an interpreter to understand his words. I don’t know how often police officers have stopped him, even arrested him on expired warrants or now-irrelevant-drug laws. I don’t know how many times “neighborhood watch guards” have called the police on “suspicious activity” when he is around. I have walked, head high and proud, next to my brother–both of them–and seen the way they look at us. We can’t even go into grocery stores without eyebrows raised. Racial profiling is infuriating, for it continually ends in the deaths of young men.
Trayvon was my brother as much as my blood brother.
Zimmerman is not a police officer, but if he was, this trial would have likely not even happened. Police officers get away with–literally–murder of Black men all the time. The fact that Zimmerman was a regular man, not one with too much authority, is why I sit here heartbroken and even more disturbed than I am on a regular night. I thought he would be convicted. This story reads differently than the rest.
Martin’s “suspicious activity” was that he was wearing a hoodie, and walking around in the dark in an area that “his kind” do not usually belong in. You see, young Black men do not have the privilege of walking in any area they please at any time of the day. Young Black men have to hold their breath when cop cars drive by, or in department stores, or in the halls of their high schools. Young Black men are not allowed to catch a late night snack without being murdered for looking as if they are “up to something.”