I would call the death of a 17 year old boy tragic under just about any circumstances I can think of. My choice of words would not be effected by the race, creed, or culture of the victim. Since the incident occurred, I’ve heard countless reports, re-tellings, statements of rage, and excuses as to why/how this whole thing even happened; And quite frankly…I’m sickened by the whole damn thing. Each time there’s a violent incident in the U.S. where injustice is called into question, the citizens of this country create the same polarized atmosphere that brings up discussions/debates on everything from race matters to the legality of owning weapons, and everything that pops up in between. Every civil rights lawyer, lobbyist, racist with an agenda and asshole with a sounding board (including me) jumps up to muddy the already murky water. Somewhere in the process, there are real people that get lost in the shuffle, and when no one’s looking, they end up surrounded by silence, nursing memories and trying to move on with their lives; and in the end, the very fiber of America is effected. Maybe just this one time we could cut through a little of sensationalist red tape and eliminate a whole lot of the inflammatory comments that will be re-broadcast a million times in front of useful information that could be used to move the situation, and the people of the affected communities forward.
Let’s start by acknowledging some of the basic truths about ourselves as American people:
- We’re all racially biased. Our country has been riddled with it from day one when fellow Americans first convinced themselves it was okay to claim the Native American’s country and needed a way to justify it. It’s who we are. It’s what we teach our children, and it’s present in every aspect of our uniquely American lives.
- We’re a violent nation. Not because we have guns, but because we’ve used guns and any other weapons at our disposal to promote our agenda from the very beginning. We became a prominent Nation because we kicked other’s in the ass. It’s what has paid off, and we’re sticking with it.
- Justice is always more defined by those in power, then it is by those that suffer from the effects of injustice. And those that suffer from injustice are only interested for as long as the uncomfortable feeling of injustice lasts. Once they become comfortable with the discomfort, the outcries stop, the rage passes, and it takes an even greater injustice to make them cry out again.
Let’s be clear, I’m not anti-American, I’m not anti-guns, and I spend a great deal of time advocating for justice. I am a man who has been an American my whole life, and I can’t think of a single day that these three things weren’t true; and the circumstances around Trayvon Martin’s murder, unfortunately, won’t change that. However, in every instance that our nation is plunged into these turbulent circumstances, whether it’s 911, a school shooting, or some other heinous crime; there comes an opportunity to challenge and explore our own individual humanity, and ask ourselves…what IS just?
In order to pursue justice, don’t we first have to pursue the truth? As citizens that elect/employ individuals to protect and serve our interests, are we even interested in the level of integrity those appointed conduct themselves with? Don’t we want to believe that if we found ourselves in a difficult situation, whether as victims or perpetrators of crimes, that the truth would be sought, as well as a solution that best serves the interests of the whole community? Does our America really include justice for all?…or is that just something that sounds sweet when recited in a pledge?
I don’t pretend to know what happened that night. I wasn’t there and I don’t have all of the facts. I know that there are two sides to every story, and we’ve only heard bits and pieces. I know that there are no instances where two people are involved where both don’t play some role in the outcome. I know Trayvon is dead. I know George Zimmerman is alive…and I know the truth is still buried.
This situation challenges us all because it forces us to revisit some very painful and very American issues. We know that there has always been a double standard on justice. We don’t like to say it out loud or take ownership of it…but we all know it’s true. In America, justice can be bought, delayed, ignored, an even fabricated. There are wayyy too many tools created for this sole purpose. It’s why we have so many laws written with so many words, it’s why we have so many lawyers, it’s why we have so many jails, so many politicians, so much crime, and so little real justice. This is the double standard that defines America: Create justice for some while committing a blatant injustice against others. It was Columbus’ America, it was Geronimo’s America, it was Jesse James’ America, it was Abe Lincoln’s America, it was Jim Crow’s America, and now we have to decide if it’s Travon Martin’s America.
Be Human. Be Honest. Be Just.