Friday, March 23, 2012

A Fight Against Injustice & Gun's

Trayvon Martin
Sybrina Fulton's voice was shaky but strong. The look on her face was a combination of devastation and determination. Despite being awake since 5:30am and battling a head cold, she stood in a crowd of over 1000 New Yorkers and spoke about a son that she would  never see again. He, Trayvon Martin, was murdered in cold blood on a rainy afternoon in late February. His killer, George Zimmerman is walking the streets of Florida as a free man. While people all over the country demand that Zimmerman as well as the police department that refused to arrest him be held accountable, she is forced to mourn the death of her son, while simultaneously fighting for justice.  And so on this day she stands in the center of Union Square, trying to find the right words.

New York is fully behind the Martin family and it is evident by the large turnout at the Million Hoodie March.  Over three dozen police officers are stationed across the street waiting for orders, TV cameras are rolling, and the crowd that keeps growing by the second fills the dreary sky with the kind of electricity that was felt at protest you can only read about in history books.

The crowd is a melting pot of black, white, brown, yellow, and even a little pink. Everyone is in solidarity standing with a mother who has lost her son. And within all of this, Sybrina Fulton stands up, voice shaky but strong, and say's the few words that puts all of this madness into perspective.

"This is not about black or white, this is about right or wrong!" Despite the fact that Zimmerman is still free, media outlets like "The Blaze" suggests that Trayvon was a violent trouble maker, and the 911 calls that show signs of prejudice from Zimmerman, Sybrina, the woman who has the right to be angrier than anyone else, made a statement that stands stronger then any other since this tragedy hit mainstream media.
Trayvon Martin's parent's Tracy Martin (left) and Sybrina Fulton (middle)
at the Million Hoodie March in Union Square Wed., March 21, 2012 in NYC
Before we coat our feelings with notions of racism, remember it was this same attitude that may have spurred Zimmerman to pursue Trayvon. Before we begin another conversation about race relations let's first focus on getting justice for his family.  Before I go into a lecture emphasizing that racism does not belong to one group of people and that a Black or Latin man/woman can be just as racist as a white supremacist, let's put a spotlight on the "Stand Your Ground" law and try to figure out if it helps protect citizens or encourages more violence.

And when all of this has been covered let's wonder why people feel they can only be safe if they have "the right to bear arms." America is full of baggage, but our situation is a lot better than many others. So why is there a culture within this great country that promotes the ownership of weapons? Why do people living in the richest country in the world feel the need to walk our streets with a loaded gun?  Zimmerman may or may not have been racist, but one thing I think we can all say for sure is that he is an idiot. But because of organizations like the National Rifle Association and policy makers, he was able to not only have a loaded weapon, but a license to carry it around. Since when do Americans need to walk around with the power to take a life on the whim of the moment?! Where are our priorities when gun violence is responsible for more deaths than abortions and many of us seem to have more of an issue with Planned Parent Hood than with Smith and Western?

So now Trayvon is dead, his mother is at Union Square, and she has to fight for authorities to realize that Trayvon was shot and killed because we empowered Zimmerman with a weapon and told him it was okay if he used it. Race plays a major role in this issue, and I am sick to my stomach with how the Sanford police department handled Trayvon's murder.  After hearing the 911 calls I have no doubt in my mind that Zimmerman's biggest issue was the color of Trayvon's skin. To deal with that demon it will take open dialogue, honesty, forgiveness, love and the willingness to learn.  If we do all of those things maybe a few years from now we won't have to worry about racism, prejudice, racial profiling and hate crimes. However, even if the monster of racism is miraculously defeated, we will still have laws like  "Stand Your Ground," states that allow you to walk around with a concealed weapon and individual monsters with weapons and laws to cause destruction.

"Trayvon is all of our sons, and he is all of us," was one of the last things that Sybrina said, and like her earlier statements it was spot on. Anyone of us could have been Trayvon, every parent is raising a Trayvon, and for this reason we must fight for justice for her family, and then justice for every person who has been a victim of gun violence. We must tackle this race issue head on, and stop trying to slip it under the rug, and we must ask ourselves the same thing that the Martin family's lawyer asked at Union Square: "What's the difference between Trayvon in a  hoodie and [CNN's] Anderson Cooper?!" Hate it as you may, stereotypes, prejudice, racism, and laws like "Stand Your Ground" continue to feed into this massacre that we should all see as American terrorism. And to think, this all started over a hoodie.

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