Like many people I imagine, the night I heard the verdict in the Zimmerman case, I cried myself to sleep. Hurt, enraged, somewhat in disbelief, (though an outcome I could foresee), and in prayer over all that transpired. It seemed like too much, in that moment, to take in. And yet, despite the pain of that night, I found comfort, healing and being powerfully moved in God’s house the next morning to where I can write from a place of clarity to share these words…
As in many things that I’ve learned, studied, and/or experienced, be it historically, culturally, politically, or consciously, there are tipping points. For example:
– Learning that many of the things that we are taught in school are either inaccurate or from a one-sided perspective that vilifies, diminishes, or completely annihilates another group or people.
– Seeing that our society is built on systems that encourage that there is more value placed on people gaining and keeping money and power than value placed on the basic necessities of life, personal freedom, and our children.
– Realizing that even with the sacrifices of our own ancestors to seek justice, create equality, having been the backbone of this nation, where we reside and haven given so much so that my generation and beyond can flourish, that there are many forces at war to combat the very things they sought to provide.
When these things are revealed, one can be brought to various stages…anger, frustration, hopelessness, helplessness, ambivalence, non-acceptance, complacency and as I sometimes say “stay plugged into the matrix”. Conversely, we can be moved to seek truth, challenge, educate, empower, build, mobilize, utilize what you know, what you’ve been given, and your purpose to transform where we are today and create new possibilities for tomorrow.
The death of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent trial and verdict speak volumes to this “revelation”. From the world’s reaction, you can see that this marks one of those potential tipping points. Not unlike the Nat Turner revolt, the death of Emmett Till, and the assassination of Dr. King or Malcolm X that served as incidents of pain that became moments of action. Yet, events like the beating of Rodney King beating, Newtown, or the death of Hadiya Pendleton, that are happening in our time, right now.
I often ask myself with specifically tragic events, especially those that may seem completely incomprehensible, “Why? Why is this happening? What is all this supposed to mean? What is the purpose behind this? What is God saying with this (specifically what may He be speaking to me)?”
I ask these questions, because I don’t feel that we are meant to sit in our anger and disbelief, nor are we meant to forget. Trayvon Martin’s life, as well as his death, in this way, has a specific God-given purpose and I refuse to see it in vain. Though I didn’t know him personally, his impact on us, our lives, especially on such a large scale, speaks so loudly that it is not meant to be a fleeting moment of rage or despair.
I wondered if George Zimmerman was found guilty, if many of us would have felt content, like everything is ok now and pleased that justice prevailed this time so it’s all good. And yet many of us would have continued on with our everyday lives as usual, be in the comfort of our homes and that would have been it.
I can’t help but think of the remarks of Jesse Jackson, Jr., barely a month after Trayvon’s death. “How do we go from a moment to a movement that creates fundamental change?…If it’s a moment, we go home. If it’s a movement, we go to war.”
Perhaps this is why the verdict was not what so many had hoped for…to become a call for us to act, to fight in some way in creating our own path towards justice, to continue building on the foundation that our ancestors began, to sow seeds into our future.
I shared with some colleagues an idea I had this weekend, especially after continuing to see that not just this verdict, but so many things in our society sends a message to our youth, specifically young Black boys that their lives are not significant. Many of the young boys I know, already don’t think they will live past the age of 18. Part of the reason why so many are so quick to fight, shoot or kill another is because they already don’t value their own life, much less someone else’s. It’s something that I’ve increasingly felt the need to combat within the mindset of our youth. I hope that in a short time, I will share this idea, this project as a manifestation of what I’ve felt led to do.
However, I just want to take this opportunity to encourage you. As you can read, I didn’t use this post as a commentary on many things that I could have shared about what I didn’t like with the trial. I didn’t even feel compelled to tell you to protest or use this as a dialogue about the trial, though I encourage those, as well. I’m mainly sharing this as a chance to seek within you, what purpose, what seeds have been planted in you as a result of Trayvon, something you feel led to do where this indeed does become more than a moment, but rather a movement.