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Justice for Trayvon Martin

posted by on 15/07/2013

Yesterday (Sunday 14th) I awoke to the news that George Zimmerman had been acquitted for the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. I won’t chronicle the details of the case or the trial, I’ll just say I spent the morning struggling to absorb the flagrant message Florida sent the USA and the world that murdering a minor because of the colour of his skin is okay. I’m still struggling with it.

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It’s a lot bigger than Trayvon, a lot bigger than America and a lot bigger than racism – it’s about social injustice around the world. It’s resonated deeply with me because I’m under no delusion that this couldn’t have happened in London.

While the US is outraged by the weekend’s trial verdict and middle America along with mainstream media are speaking out as much as ‘minorities’, it has been relatively uncovered by the UK press today. The apathy comes from a false belief that it’s not our issue. A naïve, arrogant and ridiculous view is that it wouldn’t happen over here. Stephen Lawrence, his family’s 18-year battle for a semblance of justice, and the London Metropolitan police acting as the main opposition against this struggle for justice, shows me that it can and has.

Because while most rational thinking people of ALL races, persuasions and creeds find it preposterous, outrageous and damming it that people still die for being different, the system shows being different from the masses is still a punishable crime.

In the UK we live in a politely racist society that pretends our issues don’t run as deep as America’s. The diversity of our capital city is celebrated, on the surface. Many are pacified into believing because we’re politely British and keep our racism in the house rather than brashly sprawling it on lawn like America, it’s any less dangerous or any less of an issue.

I’d like to assume our readership at Y&Y is made up of critical thinkers, but if somehow you’ve managed to convince yourself that Trayvon Martin isn’t your issue, or it’s too dull and macabre to worry about on a sunny day (like the girl in crowd at Wireless who chastised Q-Tip for “bringing down the vibe” by mentioning the injustice) I want you to think about whether you want to live in a world where our differences get us killed – and societal infrastructure historically supports the killers.

So I’m not talking about social injustices like being misjudged because of your skin colour, being heckled publicly because of your sexuality, or even not getting a job because your surname looks a bit too ethnic. The subtleties of prejudice become trivial when you realise being different means you’re more likely to die because of it.

And this is a truth for me and others settled anywhere across what we term as the ‘Western’ world. I can convince my nephews, godsons and future sons that they can do anything they put their minds to regardless of colour, succeed in any passion their hearts’ desire regardless of hue, win professionally and personally regardless of being a societal underdog from birth, love and befriend every and anyone regardless of race. But what I can’t tell them is that their colour doesn’t put them at risk of racism so severe it’s threaded into the upper echelons of the society they belong to.

 

I’d have to be honest and explain there’s a risk that their blackness and brownness may get them killed, and if it does, there’s no infrastructure in place for justice like there is for their white counterparts. That the police and the legal system will try to instead vilify them even though they’d be the victims.

I haven’t figured out how I’m going to explain that to the children in my life, but the truth is, it’s not fair that I have to.

Today there will be a peace march for Justice for Trayvon outside the US Embassy in London:


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Justice for Trayvon Martin
4-8pm
24 Grosvenor Square, W1A 2LQ London, United Kingdom
https://www.facebook.com/events/687148991311411/

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