*Having returned from a great trip to Washington, D.C. celebrating my sorority’s 100th anniversary on Saturday, July 13th I was sitting with good friends having rich discussion about life, love and the pursuit of happiness. Around 11:00pm, one friend interrupts the conversation. “Wait you guys,” she says. “I have to tell you something. The verdict came back in the George Zimmerman case.” I hold my breath for what she would say next. “What is it?” I ask. “NOT GUILTY”, she says.
I literally couldn’t breathe for a moment. All I could do was to cover my mouth and say, “oh no!” We all sat there stunned, without even moving (at first) to turn on the TV. Dismay, disbelief, disappointment, and disgust were just a few of the feelings that came up for me. Not even a slap on the wrist? No manslaughter? No nothin’? How can that be.
We watched some of the coverage and then the night ended on a sad note. We all admitted to needing to go home an process the magnitude of this situation. Two of my friends, who are also raising brown boys made a brief mention of what this might mean for their boys and their perceived value in our greater society.
While I am a caring person, I’m not overly sensitive and usually given the many sides to a story reserve my comments on matters where I don’t have all of the information. Well, I dare not claim to have all of the facts and information about this case either. However, somehow I am sure that justice was not served in the killing of 17 year old Trayvon Martin, a child. In the end, a man with a gun saw a boy who looked “suspicious” to him walking in “his” neighborhood. Against the advice of the actual law enforcement, the man followed the boy. There was a scuffle and Trayvon Martin ended up dead from a gunshot wound from the man who followed him.
Only two people were there, as far as we know, and God. We have only the one story from the man who shot Trayvon Martin, and to my knowledge that story does not make complete sense.
So here we are. And exactly where is that? I’m not quite sure, but I’m feeling very emotional these days about wherever we are. The emotion is stemming mostly from the faces of my beautiful sons. They are curious, engaging, creative, ambitious and lovely children, who are compassionate, kind, eager to experience the world and all that it has to offer, and above all else they are human beings. They have a right to live, explore, make mistakes, fail, try again, succeed, learn, and to walk home from the store with snacks to hang out with their dad without fear of some crazed person following or harming them because they are, (sickens me to say it) brown.
It’s unthinkable that in 2013, 148 years after the 13th amendment abolishing slavery was ratified (still trippy to even think that people were stolen), 58 years after Emmett Till was murdered, 48 years after Malcolm X was killed, 45 years after Martin Luther King was assassinated, and just 5 years after the President Barack Obama, the first black President was elected, that this country would make such a blatant statement about their perceived value of brown boys and men in this country. The level of ignorance that people can comfortably maintain is almost laughable, except for the fact that they also believe they have a right to people based upon what they believe. In some moments I feel sorry for them as it has to be such a limiting and debilitating way of life. And then there are the other moments. . .
I’ve always been an optimistic person. I plan on returning to that place as it relates to my children growing up in these United States. However, it will take some work. I will have to focus on the good again, to participate in the change and to stay in prayer. This won’t go away with time, only with dialogue, exposure, a genuine acknowledgment of our nations racial ills and a commitment by those who are directly affected, as well as those who can sit on the sidelines if they choose.
We have to hold the media accountable for the imbalanced portrayal of groups of people and the continual perpetuation of stereotypes that feed the unwarranted fear of particular segments of our population. Or, at a minimum find ways to assist them since those of us who care about these issues are the ones who have to roll the boulder on this one.
Even as I’ve written this post, I still can’t quite find the words. The one word I can find is “affected”.
Monica Cost is a Brand Strategist for Evidently Assured & Chief Advisor for the L.Y.T.E. (the live your truth experience). She is the Author of the new life changing book on living an authentic life called, “The Things I Used to do to Sneeze!: How to live an authentic life with awesome emotional sensations” (found at www.monicacost.com) Email her at: [email protected]. Follow her via Twitter: @monicacost and Facebook.com/monicahairstoncost. www.monicacost.com. Live true!