We awoke the morning after the Zimmerman verdict to the same America we went to sleep with.  It is an America that uses its fear of Black people as a justification for murder.  An America that uses its fear of black people as a rationale for convicting and incarcerating black folk. An America that allows its fear of black people to serve as a basis for the operation of its legal system. I have been on a couple of juries in my lifetime and so I understand that court decisions are often made with little concern for justice. A court case usually turns on the simple question of whether the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the law was broken.  When court decisions result in travesties of justice like the Trayvon Martin case it is usually the result of inadequacies in the prosecution’s case or the fact that the law does not serve justice.  I will leave it to my legal colleagues to discuss the prosecution’s performance in this case .   I am sure it will be raw meat for the lions, hyenas and vultures of the legal profession in the days to come. I would like to raise the question of the stand your ground law itself. The law itself is a reflection of the propertied class’s (white, brown and black) fear of the less propertied class and the lower class’s (white, brown and black) fear of itself. The result as we have seen is the legalization of the murder of lower class white, brown and black people.  If it hasn’t reached your community yet be assured it is coming. The jury decided that the law was not violated not that justice was served. The real question for the jury of six white women was whether they would empathize with Trayvon’s mother and her loss to supersede the law or empathize with Zimmerman and his fear to uphold it.

The only thing that has changed the morning after is us. For some it is the illusion of racial progress that has been lost.  For some it is the belief in white liberals who have remained silent. For others it is the belief in Obama whose weaselly statement urging us to to simply accept the legal verdict belies the Obama who stated that Trayvon Martin could have been his child. Many will say that they knew what the verdict would be all the time.  For some this is just whistling in the dark at their loss of faith that things had gotten better.  For others it is just a confirmation of their cynicism, hopelessness and despair.

For me and I hope others it is just a goad to work harder to bring about the world we want to live in.  It is just a reminder of the difficulties we face and the strength of the opposition.  Trayvon and so many, many others have died suffered and worked to get us as far as we are today although we are far from our goals. But like Lincoln at Gettysburg let us vow that these honored dead shall not have died in vain. Let us rededicate ourselves to continue our work, use our ingenuity to find new means to press on, find our toughness to move past this setback and rely on our hope as a light in this wilderness.

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