A month and a half after shooting a child armed with nothing more than a bag of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea, weeks after a nation came together and demanded justice in the killing of Trayvon Martin, a lifetime after a 17-year-old’s parents cried an ocean of tears over the cruel death and investigative foot-dragging in the shooting death of their son, George Zimmerman finally has been charged with murder.
Peace be still.
Let justice be done.
This is all that Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton have been asking for. All that those of us who launched the social media blitz demanded. All that humans—African American, Latino, Asian, white, Christian, Jew, Muslim, grown, child, college student, rich, working class, poor—wanted as they pulled up their hoodies and tweeted, posted on Facebook, marched and protested in Trayvon’s name.
Thank God for Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey and her team, who diligently did what the Sanford Police Department refused to do the night they took Zimmerman for his word and let him go home in his bloody clothes with his murder weapon tucked in his holster, confident he could kill a child, invoke the “Stand Your Ground” law and go home and sleep easy sans punishment: after a thorough investigation, Corey insists she has the evidence to support charging Zimmerman with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon.
Corey’s is a steep burden: she will have to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Zimmerman acted with a “depraved mind” when he shot Trayvon.
I say only a depraved mind would zone in on a kid walking in the rain, assume he’s a thug and a coon and a criminal after taking just a cursory gander of him, then, despite police orders not to do so, stalk, confront, fight and shoot that kid, even as he screamed and begged for his life.
But I am not the law.
I am not a judge.
I will not be on that jury.
And America has a history of letting depraved-minded people who kill black children get away with murder—or at least making it possible to delay prosecution and punishment so that the depraved can go on living their pitiful lives long after they’ve taken those of young African Americans.
Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair.
James Cheney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.
Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore.
Danroy Henry, Jr.
I could go on. And on. And on…
This is to say that while Trayvon Martin’s death sparked an international movement and Zimmerman’s arrest may feel like a victory, the battle is only beginning. It’s a long road to justice for dead black boys. Rev. Al Sharpton couldn’t have said it better: “We will not be gloating around here. We are still mourning with this family. This is not a night for celebration. It is a night that should have never happened in the first place and we are trying to make sure that [this] will not happen again.
“This,” Rev. Sharpton added, “is about pursuing justice.”
It is also about making sure that from here on out, everybody—no matter their color, their religion, their cultural, ethnic, economic, social background—understands that Trayvon Martin mattered.
That black children matter.
That when it comes to the murder case of George Zimmerman, the crime is much larger than the depraved shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The crime is that we refuse to get down to the meat of why this continues to happen over, and over, and over and over and over and over again.
I adore Walter Mosley for many things, and today, his column on the Trayvon Martin case in the Daily Beast added one more reason to that list. In it, he writes of those crimes that I speak about and reminds that “the recognition of an injustice and public outrage will change nothing until we understand, completely, the issues that bring about these events.” Witness:
We often look upon the face that represents the enemy and focus our rage on the perceived characteristics of that visage. In reality racial prejudice is a centuries-old system of ownership-based justice and virtually unconscious cultural bigotry. Preconceptions, false identifiers, and lessons in history that have gaps wider than the Grand Canyon make up the foundation for this solitary crime that, in my opinion, has been so misconstrued.
The crime is an unarmed man-child shot down in the streets of America when the admitted shooter is allowed to walk free. The crime is a nation of possible Florida vacationers who have to march in protest in order to get the tourism-based state to turn its eye toward justice. The crime is a corporate-owned media that picks and chooses among the cases for which it will open the floodgates of national opinion. The crime is the everyday citizen of America in the 21st century using archaic and inaccurate terms such as white and black rather than fellow American. The crime is a broader media that has convinced our citizens that they are in such imminent danger that they feel it necessary to vote for legislation such as Stand Your Ground.
Indeed. A crime, it is. And it will happen again until we get down to the meat. Whose child will be the next? Whose mother will have to take that long walk behind her baby’s casket? Whose father will have to look to the heavens and cry out in the name of his son? Whose name will we have to tweet and Facebook and blog and scribble on placards and shout and light candles for?
When. Will. This. Madness. Stop?
Murder is the case that they gave George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin. Today, he is in custody and will be presented before a judge, where he likely will plead “not guilty” in the fatal shooting that took Trayvon’s young life. In the end, Zimmerman could get 25 years to life in prison. Or he could go home a free man. But long after Zimmerman finds out where he will spend the rest of his life, we will have to reconcile with why it took an international movement to show that Trayvon mattered. That the pursuit of justice was necessary. That black children—American citizens—deserve better from their country and their fellow countrymen. Herein is where the meat lies. Justice for Trayvon. Justice for us all.
1. Teenager Killed in Florida by Neighborhood Watch Brings Terror To My Heart
2. The Nation Is Watching: the Killer of Trayvon Martin MUST Be Arrested (UPDATE)
3. Another Black Boy, Another Senseless Murder When Will It Stop? 4. Enough. (Don’t Let Aiyana Jones Die In Vain)