I feel genuinely weakened and tired from the not guilty verdict given to the George Zimmerman case. I was not shocked by it, but it did feel like another painful smack in the face after you’ve already been beaten several times.
During the whole trial, two quotations from Malcolm X came to mind:
“If you stick a knife nine inches into my back and pull it out three inches, that is not progress. Even if you pull it all the way out, that is not progress. Progress is healing the wound, and America hasn’t even begun to pull out the knife.”
Here is another version of the quotation where he says they won’t even admit the knife is there.
The second quotation is:
“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”
These two statements that he said apply greatly to how the media ended up shaping this case and how the media shapes how black people exist to others. The news channels from the beginning were saying how Zimmerman would be acquitted; they barely respected the case or Martin. We don’t exist as human beings to others unless viewed as a threat to some way of life. This case and the resulting verdict made it more clear. Despite proof that seemed obvious, including Zimmerman’s biases and a history of being troublesome, Zimmerman being a larger man than Martin and having a gun, Zimmerman ignoring the operator telling him to stay in the car, Martin saying that he was creeped out by Zimmerman following him when he was on the phone talking to his friend, Rachel Jeantel, and Martin having the right to defend himself, all of that was ignored because in the eyes of the jurors and many others, Martin was a threat; everything he did, no matter how small, was seen as a threat. His own body, although smaller than Zimmerman, was black, and thus seen as a large threat. His friend, Jeantel, because of how she looked and the way she spoke, was seen as a threat. Even the prosecution did not go as hard or take it as seriously as they could have because they do not understand the historical context of the situation. All of it justified his murder and basically Zimmerman had every right to do it as we are told with the acquittal because Martin’s life could never be in danger, he was a scary black guy whose life is not worth much.
Despite the decades of documenting these injustices, words, articles, photographs, videos, TV, Internet and now even social media, it seems never to be enough. We are told we are exaggerating or oversensitive. Given examples from the past, examples we have today, not just of Martin, but also of Jordan Davis, Gabriella Calhoun, Tarika Wilson, Ayiana Jones, Keyarika Diggles, Rekia Boyd, Tremaine McMillan, Marissa Alexander, CeCe McDonald, Marc Carson, and the countless cases who are affected by stop-and-frisk, police brutality and sexual assault, and gun-wielding citizens who find us suspicious or not valuable, like in many Stand Your Ground cases, we still have to continue defending our humanity. We are never taken seriously, as if we live in a parallel universe. We have those in charge tell us to our faces that we are wrong, even with the facts, like NYC Mayor Bloomberg saying that the cops stop-and-frisk people of color too little and white people too much, We have those in charge who do not take our lives, our witness, our words seriously, who do not take our cases seriously; we are on the wrong side all the time. We have those in charge telling us to trust in the law and the justice system, even though they treats us differently (another example from New York Times). It just never adds up and I am tired of those who unable to see us as we are, only what they think of us as, just like the hoodie in the above picture without a person. As much as we think things have changed, some things keep staying the same. We need a different agenda.