When I heard that the court declared George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter Saturday night, it felt like my heart dropped to the pit of my stomach. I’m sad, I’m upset, and I’m pissed, among many other sucky emotions. And I can’t believe that everybody isn’t feeling this way.
While most of the reactions I saw around social media were just as disgusted as I was, I did run into a few comments here and there about the importance of not making this about race.
Um, excuse me, what?
This is one reason why I’m still mad about all of this: From Zimmerman’s suspicion about Trayvon in the first place, to his defense team and the media attempting to portray Trayvon as a “thug”, this was about race from the start! If you ask me, a big part of the reason why he got away with this is because Trayvon was black. Our society is super racist and I think that Trayvon was seen as a reasonable threat by default because of his race.
If you think that I’m being unreasonable ask yourself this question and answer honestly: If Zimmerman shot and killed a young white boy in that same gated community, do you think that this trial would have gone exactly the same way?
Another thing that really scares me is the fact that the same thing could happen to someone I know and love. How many of your friends wear hoodies? How many of your friends grab a snack at the convenience store? What if your friend, a guy who was living the usual ups and downs of what it means to be a teenager, was suddenly killed because they looked suspicious to someone when they were walking back home?
I even thought about my future self. What if I have a son? What if my son is ever minding his own business, is approached by a stranger, defends himself and ends up dead? What if the person who committed the crime is let off the hook?
This isn’t justice and I’m not going to get over it. You don’t have to be a young black man to feel affected by this because things like this should make us all see just how far ridiculous, harmful stereotypes can go. Stereotyping Trayvon is what got him killed and it’s what was used to convince a jury that Zimmerman’s actions were justified.
I know that unfortunate outcomes are the reality of our criminal justice system. It happens all the time. I wish the results of this case were different and I wish that Trayvon was still around, but the only thing that any of us who are upset about this can do now is become more informed about similar situations that occur in this country. No matter what people say, our voices are incredibly powerful, and rallying against things you think are unfair can make a big impact. Never underestimate the power of your voice, because it can change hearts and minds for the better.
What did you think about the verdict? Were you surprised? Tell us in the comments!