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A woman walks past a makeshift memorial for Trayvon Martin Thursday April 12, 2012, on the sidewalk outside the complex where he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla. (AP PHOTO/CHRIS O’MEARA)
The verdict of the Trayvon Martin case has produced an oddly familiar scent of injustice in the air; once again the black community is left exposed to the forces of systematic injustice. Seemingly, centuries of advancement fell short over night as the once dormant fury of our community energized vibrant displays of outrage. Chaos manifested around the nation as our lives were reintroduced to America’s little regard for the black youth, a reigning problem throughout history. Though the progression of the civil rights movement is evident, the outcome of the Trayvon Martin case bridges our times like never before. It was not Martin’s actions but perceived characteristics that convicted him of his own murder, signifying that as a people, we still have minimal rights. The facts of the case are sobering. They reopen the scars of America’s past and reveal years of shameful unspoken truths within society. 1960 no longer seems distant in time as the Ghosts of Revolution sweeps our communities heart.
Contrary to mainstream America’s claims, the direct evidence on file and the proceedings of the case were far from non-racial. The trial directly attacked the culture of Black America. Martin’s appearance immediately deemed him suspicious in the eyes of George Zimmerman and then criminalized him in the court of law. The defense evidence even included pictures of Trayvon Martin, not committing illegal acts but posing with friends and wearing gold grills, drawing conclusions that the generic characteristics of a black male are inline with a violent individual. By the way of Florida Law, the jury decided it did not matter that Zimmerman’s blatant disregard of a dispatcher’s instructions to stay in his vehicle directly led to the conflict that ended Martin’s life. I can only imagine the fear in Trayvon Martin’s heart; and his fate had he not been a black male. Spin the story of his death whichever way you like, but the verdict implies that no black male had the right to be where Trayvon Martin was that night, simply too suspicious.
Many allude to the harsh reality of prominent black-on-black crime and question why this case in particular strikes home. Yes there are instances of self-reflection we must have as a community, but that does not erase the facts of Trayvon Martin’s death. In present day America, a teenager lost his life and found no justice because of the color of his skin. Martin’s death signifies a death within every American, not just the ones of color. The false sense of equality that has long stood is now shattered. In the midst of confusion, awareness has risen in the eyes of many who are now searching for answers. As I witnessed Crenshaw Boulevard set a blaze by disgruntled youth, persistent questions inhabited my thoughts, how did we find ourselves here again, where did we go wrong, and how can we fix this?
In order to answer these questions, we must take an introspective look at how far we have truly come as a people within America since the Civil Rights movement. It is clear that Dr. Martin Luther King’s ideals of first class citizenship and equality for all are not matched by the reality of today. A disconnect lies within our nation as the dreams of past generations are lost within complacency, failing to transcend time and failing to save Trayvon Martin’s life. As a culture we have taken the freedoms won by some of the greatest Americans for granted. Consistently shunned by the system, it seems the majority of black youth no longer appreciates the right to dream of a better future. The Civil Rights movement awarded minorities the freedoms of first class citizenship by eliminating voter suppression laws, racial segregation, and mass acts of violence against Blacks; all major forms of mass oppression. From that moment forward it was the responsibility of future generations to see these freedoms through; they are the key to rising any impoverished demographic. Yet the knowledge of this necessity was lost to the realms of history, stalling the revolution. As a people and a community, we must reunite hand and hand to finish what our fore fathers have started.
There is only one way of reaching the pinnacle of social harmony within America, and it does not consist of changing your instagram profile picture to black or rioting in the streets. The solution is far more subtle, and thankfully, far more efficient. As fetched as it may sound, we as a people must reinvest ourselves into the fabric of America. By becoming educated citizens, consistently staying aware of current events, and exercising all of our civic duties to the fullest extent, we can change the course of history. The benefits from these actions will be long felt for generations to come, but first we must be a part of the system if we are to change it.