“America, the land of the free and home of the brave,” should read; “America, the land of segregation and the home of the scared.”
America’s patriotism is something to be proud of. I see that and so does the rest of the world. The way in which America praises their armed forces, or the way in which the nation as a whole seems very devout in comparison to the rest of western civilization. We reside in a country where TV commercials touch people’s hearts by bringing the military home to their kids to promote Zillow, and we have dedicated tv stations where you can make donations to God. The dedication to the church, the pride for independence and the Star Spangled Banner flying in every direction, makes you realize that this country runs through the veins of most Americans. Independace day is celebrated by all is a BBQ fest filled with family and good times. The wafts of the chicken sizzling, and the sound of cracking the summer shandy are all things that make for a perfect 4th, except for some, the bang and crackles of fireworks, may not necessarily be fireworks. The amount of stories I hear from shop owners or people at work, the reason they came here was to better their families and give them a fair chance. You have to ask, how bad is it where you are from to come to a country where you are going to be ridiculed for the color of your skin or your religious beliefs. In many instances you will be bullied and made fun of, but you are ok with that. I truly believe that at one point in time it was the case that America signifies a better life, but the corruption and destruction that America has created through the forms of violence, money and segregation are all issues add to its demise. It’s not that perfect way of life any more. On my drive to work each day, I see a gigantic Stars and Stripes flag that used to fly high when I first moved here. I see that same flag flying at half mast more than full mast and that really sets the tone for this essay.
My fear of writing this isn’t offending people, in fact if you aren’t offended; than I don’t think this piece has done its justice for you, or touch you in the way it needs to. Things MUST change and I may not be able to change your mind on your views and I’m not even asking to. I’m asking that you taking my perspective and just sit for two minutes and think about what I’m writing. I’m writing this because I can’t stand seeing nothing done about passing the right laws and seeing the wrongs laws get passed. Why are we passing concealed gun laws easier than giving homeless people warmth and a roof over their heads? For the cost of a gun, you could feed the homeless for a long time, and before you get angered by my example, it’s exactly that, an example. Why are we passing the kinds of laws that aid in killing when we should be passing laws that aid in saving? Materialism and the bull shit that surrounds it benefit a very specific group of people, and there is no prize in guessing who wins.
Newsflash; America is not the greatest nation in the world. Many Americans do not see the rest of the world. Many Americans choose to arm themselves and place themselves in situation where they need guns. No. Many people in Syria do need guns. They need guns to prevent their families from getting killed or raped. They need guns to keep them breathing. We do not live in warzone. We do however share living in a country filled with conflict, it’s just our conflict is oppression of races and financial responsibility as oppose to worrying if we will survive the night. How can you say that arming yourselves is the right choice? I live in Illinois, the last state that didn’t have the concealed carry law, but don’t worry, you won’t be able to carry a gun on a bus, in a casino or in a stadium so I’m sure you will stay safe. It will just be the security watchmen who will be allowed to carry guns, security watchmen a lot like George Zimmerman.
Over the weekend of the 4th July, Chicago saw 72 shootings which resulted in 12 people dying. That’s 72 lives. I hope that that number resonates with you. Ask yourself how many members are in your family, or how many people are your close friends. Add them together and you will get a number that is probably close to that. Imagine a world without those people because they were killed by being shot by an assault rifle or a stray bullet that killed your baby when you were in a car (Johnylah Watkins).
That number is 72 shot which, brings the number to over 200 killed for 2013 in Chicago, I want you to think about the death toll in Syria. 93,000 people dead up until the end of April (in which death toll numbers were slowing down in being reported) and that includes children. Innocence. I think that you have to ask yourself, is arming yourself in America a logical choice for protection of your home with a security system or a choice you’re making because everyone is doing it. If you killed a 17 year old boy, what would you do? For most I would assume your life would never be the same, for others I doubt they would even care, and before you know about it, the news outlets will have forgotten them like so many of notches that make up that number. They were a person, who lived and breathed and had a personality that is now missing from this planet.
When the devastating 9/11 attack occurred, the nation pulled together and rallied for a better country. When the New Town shootings happened, the nation buckled its belt and brought the nation together. In more recent events, the Boston bombings saw an entire nation come to a standstill.
July 13th 2013 will be a day that sits with many people as a day that the US legal system failed. For some it will mark the day that the legal system succeeded. Trayvon Martin’s name will ring and circulate for decades to come just as many names have before.
America has evolved from a nation of hope, to a nation in which we now fear. We are afraid to let our kids out and play, we are afraid of the color of our skin, we are afraid of the unexpected, so what can we live for? Minorities across the country will never be able to sit down and know a perfect world where someone in their life has not been affected by a crime that mirrors one like the Trayvon Martin case. The Trayvon Martin case deserves more than we are giving right now. A few demonstrations and people breaking windows isn’t enough. The march in Washington on August 24th isn’t enough. Raising money for Martins isn’t enough. You show me someone who can bring Trayvon Martin back and I will stop writing about the hard, cold facts that are needed to be read.
Some say this isn’t about race, some believe it is. This case has been made into a racial case for numerous reasons. The defense made it into a racial case, the news outlets nationwide made it into a racial case and many national organizations have taken it upon themselves to do so as well, but what everyone must remember is that this is the case of a 17 year old boy being killed wrongfully. America and its residents have made it into a racially aggravated case.
Rachel Jeantel was made to feel stupid and was belittled by Zimmerman’s defense. He turned not being able to understand her into an issue that he thought he was being subtle with. Slang language and this proves in his eyes that Trayvon and the company he kept were just common, black uneducated people. This annoyed me. She was the last person Trayvon martin spoke to. I’m not defending her actions of hiding her age, but just think. An 18 year old girl was the last person to speak to the person who is subject to one of America’s most controversial murder investigation. The responsibility that lies on her shoulders is huge and is daunting.
You know when people ask, “Where were you when the planes hit the towers” or “what were you doing when you heard about Diana.” For me, the Trayvon Martin Case verdict is one of those moments. The Martin family must be going through something that I can’t even begin to understand. When I was 17, I was causing harmless trouble and being a 17 year old, and yes I went through a phase of wearing hooodies and often wore my hood up. I didn’t do this to piss anyone off, I did this because I was a normal 17 year old doing what normal 17 year olds do. Living in England, my Friday night was usually spent trying to get someone to obtain booze for my friends and I and sitting in the park and drinking a warm bottle of generic Cider. Once the Cider had taken effect, we would usually run around causing havoc by moving road signs, or worst case scenario stealing a road works cone. The night would come to an end by having the local police officer give him the cone back and tell us to be on our way. Violence wasn’t even something to cross my mind and for many 17 years olds it wasn’t until George Zimmerman committed murder.
A very sobering notion that I have had to understand is the blatant desensitizing of murders and deaths, especially in minorities. Chicago, my home city now, has just adopted a new nick name of “Chi-Raq” and the first time I heard this I wasn’t surprised at all. In fact it was like someone telling me what they did that previous weekend, just another useless piece of information. Then it hits you like a bag of bricks to the face. My daily routine consists of waking up, checking my phone, reading new source on my phone, clicking my phone off and starting my day as if nothing has happened. When I read stories on my phone, the Chicago Tribune app is plastered with headlines that read “safer weekend in Chicago, 24 shot, and 14 died,” or something similar to this headline. This is a frightening fact that makes me ashamed of the factors that make people take other lives. I’m not here to write about who is to blame or the issues surrounding this. I’m explaining this because in this day and age it’s sad that I have become desensitized within the space of six years. Let me say it out loud for people who also suffer from being desensitized. GEORGE ZIMMERMAN MURDERED 17 YEAR OLD TRAYVON MARTIN. TRAYVON WILL NEVER SEE HIS 21ST BIRTHDAY, GRADUATE COLLEGE, WALK DOWN THE ISLE OR DO ANY NUMBER OF SPECIAL MOMENTS IN LIFE. I want you to realize what this countries legal system has made and in turn, what this world has lost through all the Trayvon Martins in the world.
Let’s look at the facts. When you go to trial, you want to have a fair trial based on the jury. Six jury members were selected. Six of them were women. Five of them were white. This is not a fair jury. From every stand point you may take. It just isn’t unfair from the race standpoint (remember, this isn’t just about race), it’s not fair based on demographic location, sex and other questions arise from this. Why were five white women chosen? I think that we have to be in agreement when noticing that there is a token minority inclusive in this trial.
Here are some other hard facts to swallow. George Zimmerman will vote for the next president. He will be able to assist in the decision of the person who runs the country just as every other non convicted criminal in America. Probably a lot like you. He is legally free to pick up his gun, the same gun he used when he squeezed the trigger that would end a 17 year olds life. George Zimmerman will need approximately $125,000 for the case which is inclusive of lawyer fees, court fees and so on. His campaign raised $250,000 and is still growing. He will keep the rest of that money. The hardest of all the facts. George Zimmerman will wake up and breathe, he will see his wife and family and experience the life moments that Trayvon won’t. He will try and put this to the back of his head and make a new life for himself. He will smile and he will laugh. He will celebrate the 4th of July and his own independence. He will see his 30th birthday. Trayvon won’t.
What makes this all so much worse isn’t the fact that Zimmerman’s ‘lawyer’ thought he was an extra from Second City with his knock knock jokes. It wasn’t the smug look that Zimmerman gave after the verdict was announced. It wasn’t even the interview with CNN in which Zimmerman expressed this was an “act of God”. It was the Martin family. The Martin family had to sit at the back of that court room, less than 25 feet away from the ‘man’ who is responsible for their 17 year old not being here anymore. February 26th 2012 marked 502 days since they lost their son. 1 year, 4 months and 16 days the Martin family who have had to live without Trayvon. They have patiently waited for justice to arrive and what they got delivered was a fuck you from America. A fuck you from the legal system and a fuck you from George Zimmerman, a man who from what I can tell, has no remorse. I invite you to look at his brothers Twitter (#rzimmermanjr) that rants on about freedom and right choices, whilst having pictures of him on news shows and taking fancy snaps with celebs. I invite you to read the comments left to Robert Zimmerman Jr. and not feel sick by the blatant disregard of Trayvon martin. As of May 24th George Zimmerman has raised over $250,000 in donations, and guess where that goes.
I recently went home to England and I was asked over and over again, “Phil, you changed, what happened, you’re cold.” I have to agree. I turn on the news daily and everyday a piece of me is chipped away and a cold heartless part of me is substituted. I’m cold because I have to be. I’m cold because every day we are losing good Americans, who don’t bear arms, who don’t walk around looking for fights. I turn on the TV and the latest reality show phenomenon is “The First 48, “a reality show that is based on murders. What do I see when I watch that show. Trayvon Martins everywhere. There is a Trayvon Martin not just in each city, but now in every sub division and neighborhood. There is a Trayvon every time you read the news. There is a Trayvon in every high school, and like so many others; I AM TRAYVON MARTIN.
Video courtesy of: A NEWMecca Movement Production, shot by John “JayDex” Ledbetter.