Saturday, July 13, 2013

I Had a Dream ... of Justice for Trayvon Until Tonight

I posted this article yesterday thinking that the verdict in the Zimmerman trial had come back guilty. I don't know why I thought that yesterday; I blame the horrible jet-lag and 12-hour workdays on the opposite coast.

I remember thinking it was great that logic had won the day. Any objective assessment of the facts (as provided in this article) = conviction. So, now that the verdict has come back not guilty, it's about subjectives and that means it's about race.

When I heard that all six jurors were women, I also thought conviction. This is every mother's nightmare, right? Wrong, it's every black mother's nightmare and that's the difference.

When the Trayvon Martin case hit the news the first time, I was listening to the Randi Rhodes show a lot. I will never forget the black parents calling into the show and openly weeping while they explained that this is what every one of them fears.

How they have to sit down with their kids, especially their male kids, and tell them how the world sees them differently because they're black and what might happen because of it. Not to resist arrest, to walk away from fights, to keep their noses cleaner than they think they have to because of what might happen. And what might happen is that a young black man can be murdered then blamed for it because facts don't matter when you're black and male.

Now, all I can think about are those parents and what they're telling their kids tonight. And how sad I am that these conversations ever had to go on at all and how much more desperate those conversations are going to be over the next few months. Because, no matter how advanced we think we are as a country, there are so many of us who think a black kid walking through the neighborhood is more dangerous than some-wannabe-cop-turned-vigilante with a loaded gun driving through the neighborhood. And that's an objective assessment of the facts of this case.

And how do you tell your kids that?

I don't even know how to explain it to myself.

I pray that we stop letting fear run our lives and our courts. I pray that we stop hearing that ching-ching noise from Law & Order every time we see a black kid in a hoodie. Black kids are kids not perpetrators. Every lunatic serial killer with a backyard full of buried bodies turns out to be some middle-aged white guy from the Midwest and none of us hear that noise when we walk into a bank.

Mostly, I pray for the parents of black children. May God give them strength as they try to keep their kids safe, hoodie or no hoodie.