By now, we have all heard of the (in my opinion) most heinous/hypocritical/unjust/despicable verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, found not guilty in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
I share many of the sentiments of outrage that most of us feel about many aspects of this whole event. In the end though, I think there are some important positive things we can take away from all of this.
I know this may not be a popular sentiment right now. I myself am not the type of person to try to see the silver lining in every cloud.
However, I do not want to think about Trayvon Martin and feel nothing but rage and antipathy. When I think about Trayvon Martin, years from now, and I hope I am not the only one who does so, I want my mind to turn, not to any of the tragic or sad or outrageous events that occurred during and as a result of Trayvon Martin's death. When I think about Trayvon Martin, I want my mind to turn to all of the positive things we can take away, and may result, from this ordeal.
First of all, this may not count as a positive in many peoples' minds, but it is noteworthy in itself that the national media chose to publicize the death of Trayvon Martin at all. For every Trayvon Martin, there are who knows how many other innocent minority children killed under false pretenses, especially when the killer is a cop, who the media, let alone the national media, feel no urgency to follow other than a boilerplate mention in one or two broadcasts.
I think it is also good that the public was able to bring about charges at all against George Zimmerman, after the many false starts, and the inappropriate manners in which the Sanford Police department hindered the investigation and compromised evidence.
It is a positive to me that the national media maintained its interest in the case even after the long delay that often occurs between a crime and the trial. Far too often, the media and public forget about the case once updates wane and the news cycle ends and new stories take center stage, so the fact that the media covered the trial with almost as much exposure as it covered Trayvon's death is impressive.
I think it is also good that a probing light has been shined on these Stand Your Ground laws. These laws are, of course, being pushed into law around the nation by organizations like ALEC and the politicians they've bought, to prey upon kids like Trayvon, making it easier to kill, harrass, and imprison these kids with impunity, and making a profit off it to boot. Thanks to Trayvon Martin, we are now brutally aware of the dangers this law and similarly-minded laws pose, and perhaps there will be new and stronger efforts to repeal and prevent these laws.
Finally, because of Trayvon Martin, we are once again able to have open conversations of the systemic racism that still permeates this country, and our society. Recently, a majority of the Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act, because they don't think such measures are necessary in this day and age. Trayvon Martin is not-so-living proof that they were wrong. Every day, children like Trayvon Martin are being deprived of their lives, liberties, and pursuits of happiness, by overzealous neighborhood watchmen, police officers, prosecutors, judges, and politicians. For every Trayvon Martin, there is a minority child being stop and frisked, followed by a security guard, passed over for a job by an employer, having their car or bedroom searched. Because of Trayvon Martin, we have the perfect example that the system is still broken. The people who claim that we are living in a post-racial society and that any further efforts to address racism are futile, can no longer ignore the glaring fallacy of their claims, though they will probably continue to. Many of us don't have that choice, though. Many of us have to stare these truths down on a daily basis, some of us down the barrel of a gun. But most importantly, the people who feel strongly enough about fixing our corrupt system now have one more sterling example that what they are doing is important and not in vain. We now have one more example to stand behind, as we protest outside capitols, march in the streets, write our senators, and mobilize voters.
This is not about making a martyr out of Trayvon Martin. This is about reminding us why we are fighting to change this system, because if there's one thing we should learn from all of this, it's that unless we work toward less Trayvon Martins, even inaction will lead to more.
To borrow from my wife, who posted this on her facebook:
People are saying lets hope this never happens again but it will, its probably happening right now. But we need to fight till will die Cause we need to teach our children to fight for injustice. Thats whats keeping me going. The Power of the People.My heart goes out to Trayvon Martin's family. I hope they can find ways to truly move on from their tragic loss. But in the end, I think they would agree, and I think Trayvon Martin would agree, that something positive should result from what happened.
Let's make sure the legacy of Trayvon Martin is one of positive change, empowerment, revitalization, and most importantly, hope.