Thoughts on George Zimmerman’s acquittal

I grew up in a small suburban town where the handful of black kids in my school, were the extent of my experience with folks that looked different than me. My world began to grow in college as I was surrounded by 30,000 students from all over the world. I elected some African American history classes that brought new perspective and a heightened awareness of race in our country. But it wasn’t until I met my husband, and really took time to ask him questions about his experiences, that I truly began to understand what it means to be black in America.
The not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial has weighed heavily on my mind this week. Tevis and I had a long talk after we listened to the President’s impromptu press conference. Tevis shared stories with me that he’d never mentioned in our 10 years together. He echoed the President’s experiences with examples of being followed in a Macy’s or having a woman grab her purse, hold it up to her chest clenching both arms around it, as he entered an elevator. Or even as a young man running in his track uniform through a quiet college town and hearing the door locks click as he passed by a car at a stop light.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m married to an African American or that my child is part African American or just because I have it in me, but I am feeling an overwhelming sadness for the Martin family left without a son and without seeing any justice for his death. I’m appalled that there are people in this country that believe race played no part in Trayvon Martin’s death. I’m not calling George Zimmerman a racist. That would be too easy. But just because he had a black prom date, doesn’t mean he didn’t look at a young black male in a hoodie and assume he was up to no good. The problem is that we all make conclusions about people based on their appearance alone. Stereotypes and statistics prevent us from judging others solely on the content of their character.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how we will talk about race in our home. There isn’t a handbook for how to raise a mixed family (hmm, now that’s an idea) so we have to go with our gut on this one. We’ve made a conscious effort already to surround Bean with diversity. I’m fiercely protective of her individuality. It is important to me that she learns about her history and has a clear sense of her identity. I’m not naïve enough to think that we can make her world all peace and love and sprinkled with fairy dust. We won’t shy away from her questions and welcome honest talks about race.
To move forward and not this case shatter my hope for a better future for my child, I have to cling to the message of progress the President gave in his closing remarks. He’s absolutely right that we are not a perfect union, but each generation is better than the one before it. Tevis and I have changed attitudes about race. I pray that Bean will do the same. I pray that she will encounter less bias, hatred and violence and more compassion and acceptance.


2 thoughts on “Thoughts on George Zimmerman’s acquittal

  1. Its the incredible CHARACTER that you and Tevis have as people and as parents that will give Bean solid ground to grow on as she spreads her wings. As parents we all worry about the choices our kids will make and that they will grow up without knowing heartache, but in the end, all we can do is guide them with the good values that we believe in, and trust that they will be able to navigate the outside world, with all of the beauty it has to offer, and stand up to the ugliness with confidence and pride, and become the next generation of “better people.”

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