As a mother of a young black man, and the grandmother of a tiny black male, my heart is broken at the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial in the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
As a mother of a young black man, and the grandmother of a tiny black male, my heart is broken at the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial in the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Am I surprised? No. Do I feel that justice was not served? You bet.This morning I heard an interview between Anderson Cooper and one of the jurors in the case. She says that she thinks George Zimmerman was a good man with good intentions and it just got out of hand. I say that an adult - who was not a law enforcement officer - got out of his car and followed a suspicious person. He was told by the dispatch to go back to his car. Instead he pursued a 17-year-old. He shot and killed somebody’s child. He says it was self-defense and he felt threatened. I wonder if Trayvon felt threatened. I wonder if George Zimmerman had come into a black neighborhood and Trayvon had felt the need to shoot him because he felt threatened, if the trial outcome would have been the same.I think about Trayvon’s parents a lot. I can’t imagine their pain at losing their child. And I ache at the thought that there was no justice for them. A jury didn’t think that his life mattered. Florida says that if you feel threatened by an unarmed black child, you can shoot and kill him.I also think about my own son. In 2013, my husband and I are still having to have the same discussion with our son that our parents had with us about how to survive in America.
We talked about it when he was coming of age, and now years later, we are still having the same talk. He’s tall. He’s dark skinned. He wears his pants without a belt. And I pray for his safety every day. I know that he is Trayvon Martin. We all are.Miles Collier is his six-months-old son. And I am sad to say that he is going to need to be schooled in how to stay safe, because he is a black male. We can’t afford not to bring that kind of caution into his world.On the Sunday morning after the verdict came down, I got lots of emails and Facebook posts about this. So many people felt helpless anger and fear for our children. So many of us are scrambling to figure out something to do that will constructively change things. We wonder how to heal. We are dreading having to tell our children that they are not safe and if they get killed, there may not be justice because they are black. So what is there to do? Of course, there is dialogue and conversation to help people understand the siege on our young men. There are the boycotts that people are talking about.
We can think about our votes beyond the presidential elections. Much of the action comes at the state level. We need to understand the laws and policies and be heard through our votes.None of this will bring young Trayvon back, nor will it allow his mother and father to hold him one more time. It is hard to come up with strategies that will matter in the end. It’s hard not to feel that justice means JUST US. But I know that at a time like this, leadership - in the courts, in the legislative bodies, in our schools and in our homes - is as important as ever before.As a mother and grandmother, I will use my vote and my voice to say that losing our children in this pointless way is not acceptable. The safety of our children and the value that we place on their lives is not a black or white issue. It is an all of us issue. Together, we all ought to be looking for solutions.And when Miles Collier gets old enough to understand, we will explain the rules of the world he was born in, and we will pray for his safety every day and night. He too is Trayvon Martin.