George Zimmerman is fully exonerated in the killing of Trayvon Martin. A tragedy twice over. First in his being killed with a gun shot wound straight to the heart, for simply baring the brunt of being born with black skin; and second, the full acquittal of his murderer, a mercurial self-appointed vigilante, with a penchant for profiling young Black men. Were we surprised at the rendering of the verdict? No. But that doesn’t make the decision any less vexatious for the masses of Black Americans and those with even an inkling of humanity. We Blacks have become accustomed to dealing with insipid daily reminders of our perceived lack of value in this country. It’s so perfunctory in fact, that many of us have embodied it in such a way, that we have fully accepted that this is just the way things are.
Young Black men like Trayvon Martin die everyday, under similar circumstances and have been for centuries. So ill regarded is our plight as Black people in this country, that as activist/author Michael Moore tweeted, “If Zimmerman would have shot a deer with no hunting license, he would have received more punishment.” Will Smith chimed in by juxtaposing Zimmerman’s not having to do jail time for Trayvon Martin’s killing, by comparing the injustice with a Kim Kardashian antagonist, who doused the socialite with white flour on the red carpet and was immediately arrested. An endless sea of celebrities and citizens alike showed their outrage and utter disgust with the verdict. A verdict that insidiously declares, Black life has no value in America. But Trayvon’s death has not been and will not be in vain. In fact, the profoundly unjust outcome of this trial is shining a light on the discrimination that one Black woman has faced for standing her ground in Florida.
Marissa Alexander. Does the name ring a bell? Probably not, but that is par for the course when it comes to matters of media coverage of marginalized Black women. Marissa Alexander was a married mother of three; in fact she had a new-born baby, just nine days before the incident that would change the trajectory of her life occurred. A professional woman, with a Master’s degree who suffered at the hands of an abusive husband, who readily admitted in a court deposition, “I beat all five of my baby mama’s except one.” On the ill-fated day, Marissa and her husband Rico, whom she had a protective order against, came to her home with his two sons from a previous relationship. Apparently the feuding exes got into a heated verbal altercation. At some point during the exchange, the new mother felt that her self identifying, abusive husband posed a physical threat to her and she fired two warning shots. No one was harmed. A Florida judge rejected her ‘stand your ground’ defense, and sentenced this mother of three, to 20 years in prison.
Where is the justice in either of these cases? A clear and deliberate message is being sent to Black men, women and children in America. A proverbial fuck you, from your government, your judicial system, your education systems, and your elected officials. All of these systems of institutionalized racism are working in a concomitant and deliberate fashion to perpetually disenfranchise and annihilate the chances of Black people’s ability to adequately compete, and substantively survive in this country. There’s a discordant melody in the air, ringing from the windows of Capitol Hill, screeching from the walls of the Supreme Court, au-apparent in the psyches of certain factions of White and honorary White citizens in America. Don’t you hear it? WE HATE YOU NIGGERS! YOU HAVE NO VALUE. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO VOTE. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO ADEQUATE EDUCATION. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO STAND YOUR GROUND.
Did we not learn our lesson after the levies were blown up in New Orleans and hundreds of thousands of Blacks were left to drown in feces contaminated flood waters? Did we get the message loud and clear last week when the Voting Rights legislation was passed? Our kind has never been quite welcomed here. Though this so-called great country was built on the backs of enslaved African labor, America thanks you by continually kicking you in your ass.
Yes we’ll march for Trayvon. Yes we’ll sign petitions for Marissa. But what’s next? As one of our best and brightest scholars John Henrick Clark remarked, “I happen to think we’ve gotten enough mileage out of marching.”
What do you suppose we should do?