Waters of justice

15 07 2013

I am still reeling from the Zimmerman verdict, and will be for a while.  On one level I am shocked by the outcome… and on a more cynical level, one I hoped to avoid this time, I’m not the tiniest bit surprised.  White guy feels threatened by black guy.  White guy shoots black guy dead.  Happens every day.  Yawn.

I should probably just avoid Facebook completely during times like this.  I have one “friend” who started posting stories of black-on-white violence… like that has anything to do with the Martin case.  I have a several more who posted things like “The trial is over so we don’t need to talk about this any more.”   My friend Nancy  from middle school, who is black and has sons the same age as mine, put up a gut-wrenching post about being the mother of a young black man – only to have one of the commenters actually ask why she had to make everything about race, because “we have a black president, for God’s sake.”

My mother said yesterday, for the first time, that she’d like to move away from all this mess – in other words, go live in another country, away from the garbage that happens here.  This from a 73-year-old woman who was born and raised in bible belt America and married to a career military man.  I never imagined hearing such a thing from her.  But then, I never imagined feeling it myself – and I do.

I came in this morning to hear a particularly (not) charming coworker expounding on how the media only showed pictures of Trayvon as a young kid, instead of “after all those tattoos.”  I never knew that tattoos were justification for killing someone.  And I’m guessing that this coworker probably doesn’t feel that way about the sweet young things who have the exposed tattoos peeking above the waistbands of their jeans.

This morning on NPR I heard Robert Zimmerman giving an interview in which he said his brother is now worried about “vigilantes,” who could “take justice into their own hands.”  I’d love to say that I had a witty comeback to that.  Instead all I had was speechless disbelief.  I cannot fathom that breathtaking lack of awareness.

In my own mind, I am all about redemption.  People can change.  They are better than their worst moments.   But in this case I feel like my soul has been poisoned.  I don’t wish for George Zimmerman to grow and learn.  I wish for him to feel threatened the rest of his life.  I want him to be stalked by his own karma.  He’ll have to worry the rest of his life?  Wow, that’s so hard.  At least he gets to HAVE the rest of his life.

My anger at Zimmerman – as overwhelming as it feels –  is easy, small, defined.  So  I don’t think it’s a case that I need to get over it and move on.  Instead, this is anger that should grow into something bigger.  To include the countless parents who have delivered “the talk” to their children, all of the people who have to thread the needle of bigotry and fear every single day of their lives.  They live a reality that I can barely imagine.   The world they live in – the one that I can blissfully ignore because of my white skin – is what I truly need to be angry about.

I didn’t originate the idea: but if we want peace, we must work for justice.

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