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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Zimmerman Verdict.

Can I attempt to clear some things up regarding the Zimmerman trial? I can only speak about the reactions of people in response to the verdict reached this evening. As far as the court proceedings and the decision, I admit that as an average citizen, I do not know enough to make any statements. I can agree or disagree with the verdict. But there are some people who have been lashing out at others because they don't understand why they hold a certain opinion. 

There's a lot of confusion and a lot of things are not getting explained properly. This leads to a bunch of petty arguments and misdirected anger. On a much deeper level, that behavior is an expression of cemented beliefs, built up over the years by personal or indirect experience and one's environment. That, or 16-year-olds are mimicking the opinions of their parents. No surprise there. 

Everyone has a right to express their thoughts. That's the point of social media sites. So why am I so concerned about any of this? I'm just not a big fan of misinformed judgments. Especially coming from people that I will interact with throughout college and beyond. This is my attempt to eradicate confusion from one side, at least. 

A lot of people don't fully understand why race has been so widely injected into this. Ignorance out loud is the most obvious and obnoxious kind of ignorance. So for a clear, possibly extreme example, go on Twitter. (Seriously, just five minutes is enough to get the point across. Any more and you might want to flush your computer/phone down a toilet because it's so full of crap.) This might not be the case for you, but I noticed a trend. Most of the people who spoke out against the verdict were black people. This also has a lot to do with who I follow, too. 

Look at the trending topics, though- to get a more broad look of the crowd that opposed the decision. Most of them are black. This is in no way a "racist" statement, I'm simply stating what I see. It's not an assumption, either, so please don't jump on me for that. On the flip side, I encountered a lot of non-black people telling black people to "calm down already." One person stated that they were overreacting to all of this. 

I can't say whether or not that person was referring to an individual he had encountered or if he was generalizing the disagreements. But it was evident that many people didn't understand why black people took it this hard. 

If you had been watching trial coverage and the spin-off legal talks on HLN, you might have also tuned into a discussion on how much race mattered in this. A lot of radical opinions were expressed, and a lot of truth was knocked down because other people just could not relate. 

There is a long history of racial discrimination in the American justice system. Google it. Simply put, minorities have often been screwed over because of their skin tone. I'm not saying this as a cry for sympathy. I'm not saying this in an attempt to portray all black people as innocent victims all of the time. But people need to realize that the outcome could be seen as yet another example of this. 

What does this verdict mean for black people? It's hard to convey this, but this society is not completely rid of racial tension. Trying to get those who haven't experienced it is like trying to describe the taste of water. It is seen as a perpetuation of biased courthouses. This has meanings that go far beyond the surface. 

I don't doubt that the six women on the jury put a hell of a lot of thought and time into this decision. I understand that George Zimmerman and his defense team were fighting to avoid life in prison. Obviously, they wanted to win. But the fact still stands that a life was taken and Zimmerman is somehow free. Not even guilty of manslaughter. I meant to avoid including my personal opinion, but this is relevant. 

Perhaps the decision was not motivated by race whatsoever. Take out the jury, though. Take out those individuals, (try to) rid the decision from any individual bias. The decision has consequences in groups outside of Trayvon's family or Zimmerman and his family. That's why people are so upset. That's why people are worked up. It's NOT just because black people support other black people just because of race. It's NOT just because apparently all black people want to rise up against non-blacks. 

For some people, this is a sign that the life of an African-American kid doesn't have as much value as another life. You may have heard, "Oh, if Zimmerman was black and Trayvon was white, this wouldn't have even dragged on at all." Hypothetical situations add nothing to the discussion. We really can't tell what would have happened. What matters most is the impact this has on certain groups. 

Before you think about how black people are overreacting to this, consider other variables. It might not have been about race. The trial itself could have been completely fair and equal in its dealings. But the consequences are what matter.

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