Sunday, July 14, 2013

The day after

Yesterday they announced the not guilty verdict in the Zimmerman trial. I was numb. For a long time. I still am. I cried. For a long time. I still am. Not with tears streaming down my face as they did yesterday, but crying nonetheless. I started not to but then changed my mind again and went out to the close of a three day poetry event. I'm glad I went. My son chose not to go. I understood. Before I left we talked. About. This. Mess. We talked about my tears and sadness over the verdict.

I'm glad I went to the event because I was around people who were also angry, numb, crying, wailing. I was around people who were surprised. "Surprised." That was the phrase on Facebook yesterday, right? "Not surprised." I do get it. There has been so much injustice in the country against black people why would this be any different? There has been a war and hatred on/against black men since the beginning, why would this be any different? I understand all that. Then what is my hope for? I am surprised every time. I am saddened every time over our bodies falling. Each time I am shocked, surprised, numb, afraid, in tears, in prayer.

My mind went so many places last night. My mind has been spinning throughout this trial. Yesterday my mind fell on the mothers I know personally who lost their children to gun violence. I was there during their sorrow. I still am. I wanted the great mass of love notes and prayers sent to them that the Martin family and other families have going to them. I was sad because these mothers lost their children at the hands of other black men. I am sad that there is not an active mass search for their killers. I am sad at the mass statements and accusations on Facebook that black people don't care about black people dying unless we feel that racism is involved. We exist! We are here! We are screaming and shouting and mourning the fall of each one!

This was Valerie Bridgeman's post this morning. I am pasting it here because this the truth and I just could not say it better.


In the wake of my grief and trauma as a black mama, I just want to address the GREAT LIE. I am SICK TO DEATH of people opining that black people don't get outraged about black-on-black crime, that more black boys die at the hand of black people than white cops and "y'all ain't crying about that."

Let me disabuse you of your lie, of your fantasy, of your pathological presumptions that we are so sick with the gaze on racism that we can't see or smell death unless it comes white-on-black crime. It is a lie that we don't cry for our boys when they turn on themselves. OR that we are not working on these problems in an ongoing way. We were "up in arms" when 70 people were shot in Chicago over the long 4th of July weekend (no freedom in that). There are MANY of us constantly crying about the violence against black women and working on it.

Our turning our gaze on a historic racist system that is DESIGNED to allow people to be killed with impunity and has disproportionately been allowed against black bodies does not diminish the work. But this case seemed "open-and-shut" and we (I am a black mama crying and HOPING) hoped that a jury would start not with, "was Trayvon Martin hitting Zimmerman when he got shot," but with the notion that a black child at the half-time of an all-star game walked to the store to get his little brother skittles and himself tea and was talking on the phone with his friend since elementary school. It was raining. He had his hoodie pulled up and then he notices he was being followed. He ran. As a parent of black boys it is my worst nightmare. Minding his own business. Some vigilante, some police officer (and yeah, some WHITE some BODY) could kill him/them and just walk away. 

I will also admit that I find it disingenuous for anyone to say "this has nothing to do with race" and that my history (long-term and recent) with USA racism colors my grief. If I believed this had nothing to do with race, then black Marissa Alexander would not be going to jail for 20 years for shooting a WARNING shot on the basis of the "stand your ground" law in Florida. Zimmerman shot a boy who was fighting a man who was stalking him. Zimmerman shot him because he got out of his car and pursued him. Oh, I know, he shot him because Trayvon supposedly was getting the best of him. But he shot him because he intended to do so. He gets his gun back to do it again. 

I am praying for Trayvon's family this morning, and for myself and all the mamas and daddies I know who grieve and have had to bury a child, or who live with the low-grade, ongoing fear that their child can be killed for LIVING while BLACK. — feeling sad.

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