Against my better judgement yesterday, I became embroiled in an ugly, ignorant Facebook discussion regarding the Martin murder case. I say murder case because I believe it to be murder, and I’ll tell you that even if Zimmerman is acquitted my position on that isn’t going to change.
You can research all sorts articles of both sides of that issue, I don’t want to debate it here.
As I debated what I saw as blatant racism in the comments (in which one commented “it’s not racism when 30% of the population (meaning black people) commit 80% of the crime,”) I just got angrier, and angrier.
I was nearly full of rage as I stamped out my final retort on the thread, vowing to walk away from a conversation that was rife with the kind of white privilege and bigotry that marks the era of my upbringing.
I was SO. MAD.
I stewed, I snapped, I distanced myself from my kiddos because of the injustice of the entire thing. Not just the crime, but the awful, hateful things I have heard ordinary people– people I love very much– say as they pass their opinions on a case they know nothing about, and how it affects people different than they, people they have no clue about understanding.
Last night I was getting my time in at the gym and continued to boil about it. Finally I asked myself: what made me so mad? Ultimately, the verdict will not affect my day to day– though I would argue that these kinds of things shape the cultural and social norms my children will be raised in and live in.
But really, why was I so MAD? Because I was mad to the point of tears. Mad to the point of crawling into bed for the rest of the night.
And then it hit me like the weight I was barely lifting:
I WAS SAD.
Sad because I know there is no chance for justice for Martin OR Zimmerman, and I believe they are both victims in different ways.
Sad because racism is still so prevalent, so invisible and blatant all at the same time. That people don’t see the privilege they have, or the struggles others have.
Sad because ultimately, both Zimmerman and Martin had to be terrified. George Zimmerman gets to wrestle that fear for the rest of his life.
Trayvon Martin died terrified. And being terrified didn’t start when the shot was fired. He was followed, he was confronted, he was accused, and he had to be terrified. He didn’t just start being black that day, so undoubtedly he was aware that being black, in a certain neighborhood, at a certain time of day, should give him reason to be afraid. Afraid of exactly what happened. I am sad because I think of his heart quickening, realizing that someone was following him, and the terror of the certainty he had that it wasn’t going to be good.
I don’t want to debate who had the right to do what or who was defending what in this post.
But I am so sad at the thought of these two terrified fellow souls battling in the night. So sad at the thought of a child being shot in the street, crying and scared and probably wishing to be home with his mother at that moment. Sad at the thought of a man who realizes in terror that he has taken the one thing you can never ever give back– a life.
Sad that this plays out every day as we continue to fight the attitudes that put those two men on that path long before either of them were born.
Today I woke up resolved again to create change, move folks forward, keep speaking out, even when it’s the people I love most who are spewing the hate. Because you can make two choices with sad– surrender to hopelessness or continue to fight.
I will fight.