What has frustrated so many people about George Zimmerman being found innocent is the true message behind the verdict. If he is innocent then not just Trayvon Martin but an entire race has been found guilty for the crime of being black. The verdict felt like a justification for every time I am in a store with my kids or out with my family and being watched by security as if at any given moment I will be prone to commit some sort of crime. The verdict felt like a justification for not knowing my place and not knowing the neighborhoods that I can and cannot walk through. The perception of what being black symbolizes to society is the only reason why a young boy eating skittles as he walked down the street could be guilty of anything.
I have worked extremely hard in my life to rise above the circumstances I was born into, to climb out of poverty, to overcome homelessness. I have worked my entire life to grow my character so I can achieve what I desire out of my life. I have gotten to a point in life where like millions of African Americans I have to ask when is enough simply enough? When have you finally made it, do I need to play ball or rap to have a chance to earn the opportunities that I am deserving of? At the end of the day I realize that my character cannot combat the color of my skin.
My skin color is what people will always see first and you cannot judge character while walking down the street at night. What is so chilling about the Trayvon Martin case is the question we have to ask, why did George Zimmerman approach him in the first place? Did Trayvon commit some sort of crime, was he in the act of committing a crime or creating some issues that he needed to be approached by a guy on the neighborhood watch carrying a gun. The only answer most of us can come up with is that there was only one crime being committed, Trayvon being black and not knowing his place. The problem is we thought that stop being a crime a long time ago in this country.
I understand that good people die everyday, sometimes it is just the wrong place at the wrong time. But has anyone growing up ever told you to be careful you could die because you are black or that you would face harassment because you are black or that you could be denied opportunities that you have earned and deserve just because you are black. Has anyone ever told you that you would have to prove yourself two to three times more than everyone else because of the color of your skin? Did they also tell you by the way don’t complain about it, don’t mention it because that will just make it worse. Telling the truth will just make it look like you are looking for a handout or some sort of welfare assistance when you are simply looking to have the opportunity to put in the work and earn your way through life.
You are not looking for an unfair advantage but being black should not be a disadvantage, you already in most cases have more than enough you have had to overcome. You cannot hide the color of your skin, you cannot change it but time and time again you are asked to deal with the consequences and just suck it up no matter how unfair or demeaning the cost. At some point again I ask when is enough just enough. There is no way that we can allow this verdict to go by and not change anything.
It is the perception of what it means to be black that must change. Until the perception changes we as a people and as a nation wear this verdict like the mark of a slave. Regardless of the chains we are not free and we as a nation and a people are all guilty, from the media to the culture to the inadequate system of education to the neighborhoods and communities that we come from, all guilty. I feel like Trayvon died for our sins and what we have failed to do in order to rectify them. He was not the first and until we do something about it he will not be the last.