Like the rest of America my newsfeed, tumblr, twitter, instagram etc have been filled with people’s opinion on Sunday’s Zimmerman verdict. And most of the response has been pro-Trayvon (I guess I pick my friends wisely). There have been tons of pictures of people at rallies, impassioned statuses about how unfair the verdict was, and a general sentiment that justice was not served. Despite this however, I’m not feeling particularly inspired. Call me a cynic but this feels like the latest political trend, the new KONY.
The Monday rally in NYC managed to shut down Time Square, which is no small feat. This rally is reported to have been the largest for Trayvon, with over 1000 people gathering. Several colleagues of mine were among the bunch and came into the office on Monday elated. More than once they spoke of the amazing energy they felt and that they were really uplifted by the sense of
togetherness and solidarity around the injustice that had just taken place in Florida. One even mentioned that she was doubly excited as these rallies were “continuing the old tradition of protest that was seen in the civil rights movement of the 1950s-60s.” I let them all say their piece and stayed silent. But I couldn’t help but give them a bit of a look. The Time Square rally was no March from Selma. It seems to me that the “Justice 4 Trayvon Martin” campaign is more about helping people feel better than it is about doing any real work. Now don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the need for public healing. Oppression is traumatic and sometimes folks need to get together to at least acknowledge that it’s not a trauma faced alone. But why not just admit that? Why pretend like these rallies and social media prophesizing is going to change the system that leads to the death of black people daily? Why pretend like this public rage will last?
Here’s my fear and my prediction. People will continue to be outraged for a little while. Not enough to tackle these hard problems and do the hard work. But enough to make Facebook statuses and attend rallies in Time Square. In a month’s time most people will have moved on. Some people will still care and want to continue having tough conversations, but for the most part the public will have been lulled. People will have felt like they did something; that their surprise and anger mattered. But the world will be the same. Black children will still be murdered. Most will go unnamed, un-marched for, and unprotected. There will be no public mourning. There will be no real change because there will be no real work done.
But I pray I am wrong. For the sake of the mothers afraid every time their babies leave their homes. For the sake of every black body shot down like they never mattered. For the sake of the countless more enslaved in our prison system. For the sake of myself. Go prove me wrong.