Up until the age of twelve, I wanted to be a lawyer. My quick memory and logical argumentation skills made it a good choice for me people said. The summer when I was twelve, I took a summer enrichment program on law and Greek mythology. In the law program, I got to read old law cases, observe court, and discuss how I would trial and judge law cases. After taking to lawyers and judges, I came to the realisation that the law was about the law and not about justice. I was only interested in justice.
Because I have been overseas, I have not been able to follow too closely the Zimmerman trial. I was shocked to see how much it dominated the news when I arrived in NYC two weeks ago.
The verdict released last night in the Zimmerman trial reminds me of that hard lesson I learned at 12 years-that the law is about law and not about justice. A juror of six non-peers made the choice to protect the Stand Your Ground law in Florida over the life if Trayvon Martin. How do we explain to our young nephews that this verdict puts them in danger because the law has said it is okay for a man to stalk, fight, and then shoot you without consequences? How do we channel the well deserved collective rage that should not just be in the black community but in every persons heart for the injustice carried out last night?
Yesterday, one of my young nieces asked why is it that a white girl can where skimpy clothes and no one day anything, but is she wears short shorts she is called a slut. I explained to her that as a young black woman people will pre-judge her before they know her as a representative of the race. The racism that exists means that she has to decide whether she will feed into or contradict those prejudices. She balked at the unfairness of having to tone down who she is just to appease white people and resents the idea of having to live that way all of her life. She was 100% correct, but the reality is that racism exists in the US, and we have to respond to that reality.
It makes me angry to listen to the struggles of my Aunts and Uncles against racism and yet still have to have these conversations with my young relatives.
It makes me angry that fear of an unarmed black boy by a white man with gun led to the young man's death.
It makes me angry that our law system is not about justice for all because the people in the system (and the system itself) is racist.
This anger fuels the struggle for justice that has been the goal and the burden of the Black US communities.
My heart goes out to Trayvon's family with a promise to continue the struggle until our laws are about justice.