What did he do wrong? He was black, in a hoodie. According to Zimmerman he fit the description of hoodlums that were terrorizing his neighborhood, and that made him suspicious. And by fit the description, we mean he was young and black. And that's the new definition of "usual suspect". And if I'm being honest, that's true for just about every race including our own.
There's only one person alive who really knows what happened that night. My guess is Trayvon felt threatened and defended himself. He was stalked. And when he got the best of the man he felt was threatening him, he was shot and killed.
So what do we learn from this? What can we take away now that George Zimmerman was found not guilty? What do we teach our kids?
I'm admittedly a very fair black woman. My experience in life is dramatically different from that of my husband who is dark skinned. I'm not threatening, he is. Women grab their purses when he walks by, in stores people will walk past the aisle he's in several times until he leaves, as if he's too terrifying to be within a few feet of him. People will sit in their cars until he passes. That is his reality. Every day. No matter if he's at work, or at the home that we own. No, it's not everyone that he encounters, but it is virtually an every day experience. What does this mean for him? When just being dark is enough to "scare" someone.
The truth is, we face this every day. Nothing is different today than it was yesterday. This is just a reminder, a refresher that although things have changed, they haven't.
So do we teach our children to:
- Run instead of defend themselves?
- Be meek in every situation, a throw back to "yes sir, yes ma'am" ?
- To never congregate in groups?
Yes, there are problems in the inner city, and I have a lot of feelings about those murders as well. (A lot of which is if you don't have to live there, don't. But that's a post of its own)
Progress isn't over. The struggle isn't over. But, the criminal case is, and while I'm not at all surprised by the verdict, it still breaks my heart.
Rest in Peace Trayvon, Oscar, Jordan and countless others.