*This and all photos on this post taken by Chris
Without meaning to I've stumbled upon many racism deniers in the last couple of days. Comments on Twitter, Instagram, my local public news source, and the blogs I read are all various takes on the same sentiment (click on screenshot below for a bigger version):
These are the people I am most frustrated with; not the crazy racists who have no shame telling you they're happy about the outcome but the people who deny racism altogether and insist that the justice system works. I understand that, from a legal perspective, everything played out in Florida as it was designed to: There wasn't enough evidence to convict Zimmerman of second degree murder because he claimed he was acting in self defense and since there were no eye witnesses of the fight between Zimmerman and Martin (who testified, anyway), and the only other person who could have have rebutted Zimmerman is dead, he walked away a free man. Perhaps if the prosecution had made a case for a lesser charge, such as involuntary manslaughter, then Zimmerman would have been convicted. But just because that's how the law in Florida works doesn't mean the whole system isn't embedded with racism.
The system that provides a racist murderer (Zimmerman had a storied history of reporting more than 100 calls of "suspicious crimes" being afoot, like being armed with Skittles and tea) freedom is broken and desperately needs to change. People need to seriously consider what would have happened if the race of both Zimmerman and Martin had been different, and Zimmerman had been a 28 year-old armed black man following, fighting, and then killing an unarmed 17-year old non-black boy against explicit police instructions. A black Zimmerman would have been arrested immediately (certainly, not 6 weeks after killing a non-black Martin), charged with murder, and thrown into prison without a second thought by a mostly white jury. If you don't believe this then you are absolutely a racism denier, like the people commenting in the screenshot above.
Just because the legal system works the way it does, doesn't make it right. Remember, it's a system that was built before black people had rights and, although a lot has changed for the better, it still isn't quite equal, as the entire Zimmerman-Martin experience makes very clear. If a black woman in Florida fires a warning shot against her abusive husband on the basis of Stand-Your-Ground and is arrested and convicted for twenty years even though no one was hurt, and then, a self-appointed, non-black vigilante murders a black kid in "self-defense" after stalking him, engaging him, and being told not to follow him and still walks away free, then the system is broken...it's broken, people!
I know that self defense and stand your ground differ but the fact remains the same, switch the race from black to non-black in each of these instances and the outcomes would be different. Until changes are made by lawmakers and the higher courts and blacks are accorded equal justice and have more representatives in the legal system, the hypocrisy and outrage in these sorts of trials will remain the same.
I'll leave you with photos from the Trayvon Martin rally we attended yesterday in solidarity with those who seek justice and change. Hoodies up, ya'll!
*Credit for the saying on my sign goes to Jamie Kilstein from Citizen Radio
*The right will have you believe that this peaceful protest is a riot
*"Look at the crowd at these protests, the majority are under educated and ignorant" - Jason Russo, aka, Not A Racist
The trial may be over but I have a feeling and deep hope that the movement for justice and equality is just beginning.