This pain is not new

trayvon martin

(Art by Ricardo Levins Morales)

 

 

What has happened in the past two weeks isn’t new. It’s not new but it’s unbelievably scary. An innocent 17 year-old black boy, Trayvon Martin, was murdered by someone who deemed him suspicious because of the color of his skin, let’s not pretend it is any way not related to race. If you believe race was not a factor in both the murder and the verdict, you are kidding yourself. On the night of Saturday, July 13 Martin’s murderer George Zimmerman walked away a free man with a verdict of not guilty. I was outraged, disgusted and ashamed. I attended a rally later that evening beginning at midnight where around 200 people gathered to demonstrate support for the Martin family and utter disgust in our failed “justice” system. The evening ended with a gathering where individuals had a chance to share their feelings, calls to action and a general open platform for sharing. One theme across the speeches were that this is not new, black bodies have historically been devalued in our country and as one woman at the rally put it, “seen as disposable.” Every 28 hours a black male in this country is killed by the police or a vigilante, yet Trayvon Martin is one of few cases that have been at the center of media attention. We have normalized the death and criminalization of black men. This history carries over since Africans were forced into this country as slaves and the history of white supremacy is drenched in all walks of this country.

Something else not new, men trying to control women’s bodies. Texas Senator Wendy Davis delivered an incredibly brave 11-hour long filibuster to stop an anti-abortion bill in the State of Texas. Thousands of people in the state of Texas gathered to tell politicians to STOP attacking women’s bodies. A few weeks later, Gov. Rick Perry signs this atrocious bill into law and now there has been an introduction to a 6-week abortion ban in Texas. A six-week abortion ban is de-facto banning abortion as many women will not know they are pregnant before six weeks. This all comes down to an attempt to control women’s bodies, something that has occurred for centuries. It is difficult to create change when we are constantly fighting just to keep the basic right to choose when to have a child. When we have to fight to just keep clinics that provide abortions open we are wasting so much time not working on other problems in our country. I go back and forth if for some individuals their feelings against abortion are truly because they see it as murder. I honestly think this might be true for some but it is difficult for me to believe that this is the agenda of male politicians pushing anti-abortion measures. The United States has the largest income inequality in the world and yet our politicians are talking time and time again about abortion, this is a way to intimidate and control women.

What was most depressing these past few weeks is that given the set up of our democratic system, our voices are still not heard. Thousands and thousands of people took to the Texas Capital, took to their social media accounts and raised their voices in support of the work of Wendy Davis and still this law passed after 13 hours of Wendy Davis standing, not going to the bathroom, not eating, nothing. Voices were dismissed and those with seemingly more power won, patriarchy won. White supremacy won in the case of Trayvon Martin and left a blood stain on our nation. I’ve found it difficult to feel much hope these past few weeks. I’ve found hope in anger though. I’ve found hope in the questioning. I’m hoping that this anger means something new, not more of the repeated history of oppression.

This article is the most powerful thing I have read on the topic of Trayvon Martinm, I highly recommend reading it: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/07/questlove-trayvon-martin-and-i-aint-shit.html

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5 thoughts on “This pain is not new

  1. sonyakuzy says:

    Sarah, I was just watching the MHP show and she had Genie Lauren on. Genie was able to start a twitter campaign to get the literary agent who offered one of the jurors a book deal to rescind her offer! We do have power. We need to organize.

    Like

  2. jennavagts says:

    It all is really heartbreaking

    Like

  3. lexismanzara says:

    So glad you wrote about these events. Both really make me feel pretty hopeless as well, especially since the abortion bills are multiplying all over the country! Even with so many other insane things happening they will always find time to regulate women’s bodies

    Like

  4. Magdalena says:

    I met with some friends last night for our book club. We’d read Ayn Rand and Huey P Newton for this week, talking about survival and social change. Our conversation turned to the Trayvon Martin case and our pessimism born out of the lack of productive dialogue and action following all the media attention. It is not productive to focus just on Trayvon, nor is it productive to solely discuss white privilege.

    Would a guilty verdict for Zimmerman really have offered us much peace? I am anti-prison, and don’t think that one more incarceration would have solved the underlying issues that are at fault for everything you mentioned in this informative post. I am appalled that Zimmerman and his defense did not admit the wrongfulness of the murder. In my ideal world, Zimmerman would dedicate the rest of his days to educating and fighting against crimes like the one he committed.

    It is also important to consider how Zimmerman’s latino heritage has been discussed by communities and the media. This article explains the complexity of the situation: http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/07/The-Curious-Case-of-George-Zimmermans-Race.html

    My neighbor told me she spent all of Monday reading up on current events and statistics on Democracy Now. She is trying to focus on her weaknesses. I want to do the same. I have been sharing your pessimism, Sarah, but I hope to rekindle my optimism and hope for change – through conversations with elders, dinners with friends, and the continued building of strong relationships and networks.

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