The Great Verdict: A Call To Action

By Tiffany Pennamon, Editorial Intern

Following the verdict of the Travyon Martin-George Zimmerman Trial, I immediately became upset, angry, confused and emotional to the point that tears of frustration came to my eyes. I do not know if it is because I attend an HBCU that I felt the way I did or if it was because of all the injustices my ancestors experienced. Nonetheless, I felt disappointed.

I could not believe that in 2013, a country that we say is “Post-Racial,” acquitted a man for fatally killing an unarmed (except for Skittles and an iced-tea) 17-year-old African-American teenager. The defense team’s evidence and inconsistent facts became the deciding factor for a verdict that nearly pushed America back 50 years socially.

In the initial days of the trial, I remember hearing the 911 transcript. The operator told Zimmerman, “We don’t need you to do that,” after Zimmerman said he was following Trayvon. I thought, “Why did Zimmerman still get out of the car then?” There would be no reason for Zimmerman to “Stand His Ground” if he never got out of the car that night. Here’s where things get controversial. Racial profiling … racial stereotyping — whatever you want to call it — was a very important factor in the deadly incident.

Zimmerman, his defense attorneys, his family, and many others proclaim that race had nothing to do with why Zimmerman got out of the car to confront Trayvon Martin. Minorities, on the other hand — mainly African Americans — disagree.

African Americans are the most widely watched racial group in America. We have to be aware of our surroundings, how we talk, how we walk, and how we behave or face being judged just because of the color of our skin. This is known as “double consciousness,” a term coined by W.E.B DuBois. DuBois defined double consciousness “as this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,— an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” A White person will never understand this double consciousness.

The protests, Facebook statuses, and Twitter tweets highlighted the differences we Americans face racially…a great rift. Many were empathetic, many were insensitive.

Many people also posted things such as “Zimmerman did the right thing” or “there’s other things going on in the world.” Well, yes we have other issues going on around the world, but what good is it to solve other countries’ problems if we–America–still need fixing ourselves? There’s still poverty in America. There’s a wealth gap too. The cost of my education shouldn’t be what it is. The main issue is, the situation at forefront is important right now.

CNN reported that Representative Andy Harris, R-Maryland, stated that “‘We’re hung up on this one case where this one fellow was in fact found not guilty by a jury. That’s the way the American law system works,’ Harris said. ‘Get over it.'”

I can’t get over it. Having to “be aware” because of my skin color is something I cannot “get over.” Racial injustice is something I cannot “get over.” The death of a young Black man — and many others — with so much potential is something I cannot “get over.” The fact that it could have been my little brother is simply something I cannot “get over.”

It’s time to take a stance and make a change.

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