AFRICANGLOBE – Listening carefully to the trial judge’s detailed instructions to the six-juror panel (amazing in itself), including complete definitions of second degree murder and manslaughter, I was convinced that were they to follow her instructions, the George Zimmerman verdict was bound to be guilty as charged or at least the lesser charge of manslaughter. After over 12 hours of deliberations, my worst-case scenario was a hung jury.
Yet how could I forget that this trial took place in a judicial system I’ve long known (through experience!) represents White-supremacist injustice and in one of the most racist states in the country – Florida, the nation’s second highest incarcerator and state executioner of Black men.
Off the top, how many other cases come to mind of a young Black man senselessly murdered by so-called law enforcers? Oscar Grant, Alan Blueford, Kenneth Harding, Amadou Diallo. In fact, a Black person is murdered by law enforcement every 28 hours. Are their lives valued?
An endangered, stereotyped group, Black and Brown male human beings top the prison populations and those slated for state murder. Black women and mothers are swiftly gaining a similar fate as more and more Black babies are literally born in prison.
That the Zimmerman Verdict is Racist is Simply a Fact
You can’t even imagine a reverse situation playing out the same way: A Black self-appointed neighborhood patroller with a loaded firearm follows a young White man, presumptively calling him a “fu*king punk,” and after a scuffle, the unarmed White teenager is dead from a fatal shot to the heart. No arrest of the Black perpetrator is made for well over a month, or until White people take to the streets and raise hell. Now that’s really hard to imagine.
That the lawyer defenders of the murderer wanted jurors they could count on to render an acquittal meant they had to pick individuals they thought would devalue the life of a young Black man, just as the general society or U.S. population devalues Black life.
As a Black mother who raised a Black son, I readily empathize with Trayvon Martin’s mother and father. They have my deepest sympathies and condolences in this tragic loss and travesty of justice. I would urge them to turn grief into strength and find peaceful, insightful means to fight for real change in honor of their child.
My son was born on Jan. 21, 1960, and, politically naïve, I thought his birth on Inauguration Day was a sign that he was going to be the first Black president. How ironic.
As I began noticing society’s regard of my dark-skinned, curly-headed baby boy, I grew conscious that it was nothing like my viewpoint. I thought he was gorgeous.
Racism in the schools plus police brutality and murders of Black folks in the 1960s – culminating in the blatant murder of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in 1969 – made me politically conscious. I joined the Black Panther Party and decided to take my son out of public school to home-school him. When he was 13, I so feared for his life, I gave him martial arts lessons and allowed him to devote full time to the art of self-defense. Eventually, he earned a 4th degree black belt in Choy Li Fut. To date, he’s never been beaten or arrested.
The media blitz over Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman has been in-depth, saturating mainstream news for days before, during and now after the trial – commenting on every aspect of this case, with sympathy clearly on the side of Zimmerman. It has completely obscured the current hunger strike by tens of thousands of California prisoners protesting prolonged solitary confinement.
Trayvon Martin, who was 16 years and 21 days young when he was shot, had nearly a whole year added to his age, making everyone think he was 17 – perhaps to make him a bit more ominous – and every attempt was made to assassinate the character of this teenager.
It brings to mind one very courageous 17-year-old Black manchild, our martyred hero Jonathan Jackson, about whom you’ll rarely hear a word.
Jonathan stormed the courtroom of Marin County, Calif., Aug. 7, 1970, armed to the teeth, where the trial of captive freedom fighter, James McClain, was providing real-life lessons on criminal injustice masquerading as equal justice.
Attempting to expose racist prison hell and free the Soledad Brothers, including his older brother, George, Jonathan was shot dead before he could drive the van out of the parking lot.
A great revolutionary and political analyst, George Jackson said in a May 1971 interview on KPFA just months before he was assassinated on Aug. 21:
“We aren’t getting justice in the courts, or we can’t get justice in the courts. You are aware that the district attorney and the judge were related by law [in McClain’s trial] …. And the collusion, all of us see it, the collusion – the prosecutors and the judges and juries, all working together, you know, the grand juries especially. And the control, the control the judge and prosecutor can exercise over picking of jury panels, impaneling a jury. The control they can exercise together completely eliminates all possibility of an impartial trial. And the vanguard is very much aware of that. Well, the people in general, Black people in general are becoming aware of that. …
“McClain wanted to use his trial as a demonstration of this thing that people are slowly becoming aware of – that the court process, the legal process is just a farce, a device to keep us thinking in conventional terms that perhaps we can get some relief in conventional ways, established ways. He wanted to use it as an example [my emphasis] ….