Growing up in this country, I was taught to treat others the way that you want to be treated. That golden rule was what I lived by throughout the entirety of my childhood. You hit me, I hit you back. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. I give respect, I get it back. Its simple, really–elementary stuff.
On February 26th, 2012, that simple rule was violated. Trayvon Martin’s life was taken by a gun held in the hands of George Zimmerman. A 17 year old boy was killed. Why? Because of a hunch. Because Zimmerman felt that he needed to follow this boy who was only walking home after purchasing tea and skittles from a local store.
Zimmerman took Martin’s life that night, but there was really nothing get back. There was no gain in this–a boy was killed. There was no arrest made. There was a self defense claim. And now, after the verdict in the Trayvon Martin trial today, there was no justice served to the value of a life.
There are many who will let race play a large part in this situation, case and verdict. Zimmerman is a man of hispanic decent while Martin was a black teenager. On the surface, this reeks of the same stench as many civil rights cases did throughout the 1900s. There’s an elephant in the room that screams about racism and racial inequality, still.
If you ask me, racism does still exist in our imperfect nation, but it is far weaker than it was before. It isn’t prevalent, and that is a positive sign. Did it have something to do with this case? I can’t quite put my finger on it.
But the one thing that I do know is that there was a civil right that was violated on that very night, and there was a crime that George Zimmerman got away with last night. That crime was violating Trayvon Martin’s right to live. And while some do believe that it was an act of self defense, it still does not warrant the loss of life.
Had the gun been in the other hand, the same right to live still applies. Both parties had the right to be where they were. George Zimmerman did not have the right to follow a 17 year old Martin. That is a violation of privacy. And in a country where we are supposed to have innocence until we are proven to be guilty, that is a major violation.
Zimmerman profiled a minor for a suspicion that turned out to be completely false. The thought that Martin was up to no good was not true, but a life was still lost because of a simple assumption. Zimmerman did not have the right to take a life that night.
How can one defend himself when the action was initiated by him? He followed Martin that night in his own neighborhood. If Martin turned to defend himself, then good. Because I would’ve done the same thing. So would you. If you’ve never been followed, know that it is an uncomfortable feeling. Especially when the person following you has a gun.
This is very, very powerful stuff. It touches me especially, because in Martin I saw myself. From simple pictures of Martin posing for a camera, I saw someone who was eerily similar to me. I, too, like Arizona Iced tea and regularly purchase them from gas stations and local stores. I, too, like skittles and I purchase those also. That could’ve been me walking home that night. That could’ve been your son, brother or spouse. That could’ve been anyone.
In a country that is supposed to believe that we are innocent until proven guilty, the justice system served no justice to the loss of one boy’s life. Trayvon Martin’s guilt was assumed far before he even knew that he was going to die that night. George Zimmerman’s innocence was protected in the court of law because of that same assumed guilt that Trayvon Martin faced that very night.
This isn’t fair. It isn’t fair in the least bit. For things to end this way are especially devastating to me because I’m a young, black male looking to create a bright future for myself. The racial aspect of this case is a tough one to grasp because you don’t know exactly how things would turn out with the shoe on the other foot. I have a feeling in my gut that they would’ve been different and Martin would’ve been jailed.
I’m not one to go off of gut feelings, but too many times in the history of this proud nation have young, black males been gunned down in cold blood and were later served no justice. Too many times have we been put down and thrown in jail because of crimes that were minor or because of crimes that we didn’t even commit.
I have seen this first hand growing up in the area that I did. I was taught early that I had to watch my back because I could lose my life at any moment. This was especially true because of my race and gender. At first, I didn’t understand. I felt like I couldn’t do certain things or that I had certain restrictions for no reason at all.
I couldn’t go to the playground–the older kids were on the corner. I couldn’t stay outside after the street lights turned on because that was when the older kids went out to “play”. I couldn’t play in the neighboring community because those kids weren’t good people.
Now I see why things I was told these things–I see how my safety was the top priority. That was never more apparent to me than it was last night. Trayvon Martin was killed–there was nothing done about it. There was a trial for him and that was it. No justice. No crime. No one paying for this loss of life.
Just a life lost among many others who have suffered through very similar tragedies. This isn’t about Martin being black or anything else. This is about the consequences for taking lives. This is about a family who will forever mourn the loss of their son. This is about a boy who never had a chance to speak for himself.
Only one side of the story was really told in this trial. When looking at it from that perspective, the prosecution never really had a chance. Only Zimmerman and Martin knew what happened that night, and there was only one person here to tell the story.
I’m not sure how things played out exactly, but I do know this: I will forever remember this moment. I’ll know where I was when that verdict was announced. And when I try to impart my wisdom on future generations, I’ll certainly bring this up.
I’ll make sure to teach them about the quality of life. I’ll make sure to teach them about what it really means to have innocence in America, and I’ll make sure that they know that they should never judge a book by its cover. After all, someday that book could very well be you. And no one wants to walk around being judged, so don’t judge others.