BLACK FOLKS, IT’S TIME TO STOP TAKING CARE OF WHITE PEOPLE.
We are, most of us, grieving Trayvon Martin’s death, again, after this absurd jury verdict. Last night, I watched Anderson Cooper’s ‘Town Hall on Race and Justice in America’. These discussions are interesting. There are, usually, a few thoughts that are heartfelt and impressionable. Charles Blow has been, particularly, moving.
A few days before, I told a friend that these discussions about ‘race’ keep black people situated in a ‘victim’ narrative. Stories of how we have to talk to our children to protect themselves when in public. Stories from high achieving black men about how they were stopped by the police, where they were taught how to place their hands on the steering wheel or to cross the street when walking on a street with a white woman. I scratched my head and thought, “we can talk about this until the cows come home. When are we going to have a ‘town hall on racism’ where white people discuss how they will speak to their children to make sure another George Zimmerman does not walk among us?”
When are we going to have a ‘town hall on racism’ that addresses how a jury of women, predominantly white women (and mothers!), don’t identify with a black child? I need to know how that happened. I need to understand that. And I want white people to explain it to me. Before someone starts railing about the laws, understand that I read the law. I watched the trial EVERY DAY. EVERY DAY, beginning with jury selection, all of it. I decided I would bear witness for Trayvon no matter how I had to restructure my day. And I did it while reading the law.
The jurors had a CHOICE. They CHOSE to believe zimmerman. There was ample evidence that he lied. They could have discounted his statements. And, for those who want to blame the prosecution, again, I watched the trial. The prosecution proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that zimmerman did not fear for his life. The only evidence that zimmerman feared for his life were his words. The medical testimony proved that his life was not in danger. Along with the fact that neighbors were watching and the police were on their way. The jury chose to believe zimmerman.
So, we can discuss the law. But, we need to discuss the filter through which these women viewed the laws. We need to change the laws, no doubt. But, I also want a discussion about who created those laws and why. Laws don’t create themselves. It is easy to attack “the laws”. It is more difficult to examine the racism that went into the construction of the laws. It is easy to excuse the jury verdict because of “the laws”. The views that created those laws were shared by, at least, one of the jurors.
The discussions can happen simultaneously. We can fight to remove the laws. But, the laws will pop up in another form if we don’t address the reasons why they were created in the first place. It feels like we, suddenly, fell back into the 1950′s. Sorry, I’m not going back. We’ve done too much work to get out of that madness. We are not going back. This is the time to move “forward without fear”.