It's taken me a few days to write this post. I just had too much anger and sadness to be rational about the travesty that was the Zimmerman trial. My outrage over what was done to that boy not just the night he died but during and after the trial had my blood on full boil. The post trial interviews, the coverage, the marches... just too much. In the aftermath, I see a whole lot of talk (way too much analysis) and calls for action. To be honest, it's left me weary. Weary to the point of near depression. It got to the point where I didn't want to hear about it, read about it or speak on it. Everybody has an opinion and none of those opinions bring Trayvon back or put his killer behind bars. And we are worlds away from any dream of this never happening again.
So often in this country justice is deferred or denied for people of color. I don't need the stats to show me how often black males are profiled or how the "stand your ground" defense only works for some folks and not others. I don't need charts or graphs to tell me how racism never went anywhere (who thought it died?). I don't need pundits to try and put monetary values on a white life vs. a black life. I don't need to see average life expectancy charts across races, socio-economic indicators or gender. I don't need to see all that to understand that the scales of justice remain tragically imbalanced in this country and that there is a widespread conspiracy to keep it just so.
I recall working at a large company in my late 20s. They made film and the name rhymed with Lojack O__o... I recall being at a retreat with all white executives and having one of them turn to me and say, "Whose mistress are you or are you housekeeping?" Yeah. Degreed. Raised by two professionals. Speaking the Queen's English as it was meant to be spoken. Better dressed than everyone in the room. But I'm black so I'm either there to clean or do somebody. Ni-ice. So no, I don't need any studies to tell me that "people" have not "progressed" as far as we hoped with the post-racial colorblindness and whatnot.
I just need to pick my head up and keep on keeping on. But Lord knows it's hard to keep on keeping on when it seems that for every small step forward, we're knocked ten steps backward. The molehill becomes a mountain and we're denied the tools to climb. When we get the tools to climb, someone is there each step of the way to try and kick us back down. And God help you if you do reach that mountaintop. The multitudes cannot wait to snatch you down. To straight out steal from the late great Marvin Gaye, it makes me wanna holla throw up both my hands.
Idealistically, I truly believed that a case where a twenty-something man stalked and killed an unarmed teenager was an open and shut deal. NO equivocations, go straight to jail, do not pass go. The fact that we live in a country where this simplistic and savage a murder goes unchastened by the law makes me physically ill. I was a law student until I realized my talents lay elsewhere. But I loved the intricacies of the judicial system and the complexity of government and the ability to have both black and white and shades of grey within a single statute. Over the years, a lot of that love has been eroded by cynicism as I've watched corrupt, conniving and downright morally bankrupt people subvert the law to suit their agendas.
My struggle with this verdict resides in an emotional place within me. What do I tell my nieces and nephews about what it means to be black in this country? How do I hold onto what optimism I have left about the future? I'm an armchair activist. I will smile and dial for a candidate I believe in until my fingers bleed and my voice gives out. I will write checks until my bank account screams for mercy. I will lecture all my social media friends, followers, passersby (God Bless ya'll) about voting and doing the right thing even after many of you have begged me not to post about politics anymore. But how am I supposed to motivate myself to fight the good fight when it all appears for naught?
The answer came to me after stumbling across this:
This gave me such joy. Not everyone is the enemy. Not everyone is a bigoted idiot settled so far to the left or right that they can no longer see the middle. And the only way to make a difference is to reach more people and form a majority. If I don't tell the babies that their future is whatever they want it to be, who will? Hope and optimism may seem naive but without them, where are we? I chose to focus on the break in the clouds rather than the torrential rain surrounding it. I don't know what I'll do to assist the "let's not let this happen again" movements that are springing up by the hour. But whatever I do, I'll do it because it needs to be done. And giving up never solved a damn thing.
Thanks for listening, BougieLand.