When There is No Justice, There is Just Us: concrete actions to address the Zimmerman verdict at the family, workplace, and community levels

POSTED ON
July 23

Where were you when the Zimmerman verdict came out?  Were you stunned, outraged, numb?  Were you in a position to process its significance with people in your community?  Did you have an opportunity to mourn for Trayvon Martin's family and for black and brown-skinned youth who are being told their lives don’t matter here?

I found out while I was on my way to see the movie, Fruitvale Station.  I was stunned and yet strangely grateful for the timing.  The movie gives us a window into the life of Oscar Grant, another young African-American man shot and killed by a white man who, like Zimmerman, was favored by the courts.  Besides the opportunity to reflect on the undeniable racism that plagues our “justice” system, watching Fruitvale Station on the night of the Zimmerman verdict gave us a chance to weep. 

Sobs tinged with rage and heavy with sorrow filled the theater.  We wept for Oscar Grant, a young father whose love for his daughter was beginning to transform his life when he was shot in the back by BART police.  We wept for Trayvon Martin, who at 17-years-old was profiled, stalked and shot dead by an openly racist neighborhood watchman.  We wept for all the families who have lost their babies to court-sanctioned murder.  And we wept for a country that feeds on it’s young. 

Zimmerman’s acquittal is just a symptom of an insidious disease plaguing this country.  And like most diseases, we don’t like talking about white supremacy and the supreme devaluing of human life that comes with it.  And like most symptoms of disease, the Zimmerman verdict presents a supreme opportunity for us to rethink old patterns and choose new ways forward.

When there is no justice, there is just us.  I don’t know who first coined that axiom, but it points us directly at the blessing hidden within times of grave injustice.  These are the most powerful moments for us to come together to build alternatives, to have real conversations about the state of the world and the world we stand to create.

Let us all use this verdict as a springboard into the next level of our social engagement to create the world we want to live in.

Whether it is weeping together in a movie theater, protesting together in the streets, or strategizing together around how we can build a country where every young person knows his life is valued, we are all we’ve got.

The following are concrete suggestions for Facilitating Power to move forward from the Zimmerman verdict...

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