Someone, unfortunately, keeps giving George Zimmerman the platform to launch his inconsistent and insensitive remarks concerning his killing of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman’s interview yesterday with Sean Hannity was undoubtedly an ill-fated attempt to humanize a man who has become a contemporary symbol of America’s racial anxieties. Yet, unsurprisingly, Zimmerman effectively poured salt on America’s wound, admitting that he would not have done anything differently, and even daring to obfuscate the brevity of his actions in a shroud of spirituality, saying that this was all “God’s plan.”
For infinite reasons, this is unfortunate, insulting, and my heart goes out to Trayvon’s parents; I cannot even begin to fathom the inextricable suffering they must be experiencing. They have to watch the killer of their child gain more opportunities to speak, when—as the attorney for Trayvon’s family states when asked if Trayvon could’ve done anything differently—“we don’t have Trayvon’s version.” Indeed, Trayvon’s version is what is missing in this entire equation. And in this country, Black youth all around the nation are being disempowered by all the textures of our social fabric. They are being silenced. There are a lot of “versions” that are missing, voices of Black youth that are being disenfranchised and silenced.
Nevertheless, we must find ways to move forward.
Zimmerman’s regret does nothing for us. While his fervent failure to show genuine remorse for his actions is a slap in the face—his remorse will do little to correct the wrongs being done against Black youth in this country. There are many Zimmermans. There are people like Zimmerman of course. But there are institutional Zimmeramns. There are ideological Zimmermans. George Zimmerman is merely a reflection of the society we already live in.
Let’s just do a quick rundown.
- Just over the past week, reports have been released that reveal that schools in urban areas continually fail to receive a substantial share of education spending, despite being the highest in need. In the same vein, a recent report from Stanford’s Center for Education Policy reveals that white students are five times more likely than Black students to enroll in the countries’ most selective institutions.
- On another note, the Black AIDS institute just released a study showing that young Black MSM have a 1 in 4 chance of contracting HIV by the time they are 25. This is not due to greater promiscuity amongst Black MSM, but because of inadequate access to quality healthcare.
- Just yesterday, a study was released showing that racial resentment against African-Americans seems to be directly correlated with support for Voter ID laws.
And there are many more woes I could mention. Essentially, we cannot languish in the deleterious comments of one man. We must work to fight the deeper issues in our society. We must sharpen our focus on the institutional inequalities plaguing our society, so that Black youth all around the nation can have their own platforms on which to stand on. What we want from Zimmerman is accountability, of course, but even if we do receive it, there are many more battles to be fought.
I wish that we could’ve gotten Trayvon’s “version” of the story, let’s continue to do our part to make sure that more Black youth of color have the power to tell their sides of their stories. Let’s empower our youth to have a strong sense of their identity and self-wroth, so that they can continue to succeed despite the challenges against them. Let’s work to understand youth, instead of admonishing them for things like “sagging pants,” or accusing them of being misdirected. We all have our roles to play in fighting the injustices against Black youth. Our means might be big or small, but they are tantamount nonetheless. And what we cannot do is become apathetic, cynical, and stagnant. We must move forward however we can.
For as many Zimmermans that exist, there are just as many Travyons. Let’s continue to support our Trayvons.