A Moment of Silence

Of all the things I could think to write today, none feels right in light of the jury verdict that we got yesterday in America. It’s moments like this that make me think

I was horrified enough when young Trayvon Martin was killed in the first place. A child out buying some candy. Shot and killed…why? Because he existed? That someone might mistake you for a criminal because you are walking around outside your home is a fear that no one should ever have to have.

At least I was relieved that they had in custody the man who did it and that bastard could pay. But he’s not. He was let go. What kind of a world are we living in where that happens? I am fine with people’s right to own guns. But I am not okay with people using those guns to shoot children in the street.

It’s too easy for Americans to see how far we’ve come in civil rights and start to believe that we’ve beaten racism. Let this be a reminder to us that racism is thriving in America and if Trayvon’s death is to have any meaning, it is to rally people to fight against it, to be vocal against it, for all of us to care that young black men are in danger for no reason.

I have had so little experience in this, but it does remind me of two moments that really stuck out to me when they happened:

1) Hanging out with a friend at night in the bitter cold winter of Rochester, NY. He’s a black man in his early twenties, an evangelical Christian, the most moral person I know and one of the most generous and kind-hearted. He’s wearing a hoodie with the hood down and he’s freezing. As he shivers, I suggest that he should put up his hood, after all a lot of heat is escaping from his head. How naive I was. “I can’t,” he says, “Someone might call the police.”

How sad is that? That incident was thirteen years ago and it is still something that young black men have to worry about, something they have to consider that I never do. No one is going to call the cops, have me arrested, or kill me because I’m cold and I’m wearing a hooded sweatshirt.

2) A woman in my parents’ church gave a talk when I was a teenager. Her family was one of only a handful of black families in our town. Where I grew up was overwhelmingly WASP, Jewish, and Asian. Tears formed in her eyes as she spoke about how she knew people would think about her son when he got older. How people would be suspicious of this darling, sweet boy with his huge smile. How people would judge him and the weight of being a mother and knowing that that world was awaiting her son. It still makes me cry to remember her saying it.

I don’t believe the world is getting better or going to get better. I think we’re in a mad spiral downwards into destruction and ignorance and hatred will only get stronger. But we people who care must continue to fight it. We must aspire to be better people than this world wants or expects us to be.

I don’t know what I can do to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again, but I will keep my eye out for an opportunity.

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • Hanan

    You could be angry at the jury’s decision, but at least you owe your readers the facts and for you to accept the facts. Zimmerman was getting beating up. There were no marks on Martin, so the pummeling was only going in one direction…toward Zimmerman. So it’s not that Zimmerman shot Martin simply because “he existed” as you put it. This wasn’t an assassination. Could you say that Zimmerman should have stayed in the car? Yes. But from my understanding that neighborhood has been robbed many times before and that was the reason Zimmerman was there in the first place. So it’s Zimmerman’s job to deal with people he suspects of something.

    Remember, this doesn’t mean that Zimmerman is innocent. It means the state is unable to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Part of an ordered society is a court system that handles these things and there are times when the state is simply not able to meet the burden that the law (correctly) puts on them.

    • Rias

      It wasn’t Zimmerman’s job to deal with people he suspects of something. That assumes he’s a police officer. Which he’s not. Neighborhood watch does not mean you get to be a vigilante. If you see someone who is ‘suspicious’ then call the police. Which I think he did. And was told not to follow (correct me if I’m wrong). And even still, why…. get out of the car? To scare him? What? So yeah…. I could say he should have stayed in the car. Because he should have.

      Furthermore, if it’s dark and I’m young, and someone’s following me there is a possibility I will fight back. I have the right to defend myself. It’s like someone comes to steal your purse, you beat him up for doing it…then the thief feels threatened and you get shot.
      Or if you want to go the not obviously wrong of a thief route…

      Someone see some POC kid in a hoodie, assume they are up to no good and follow them, the kid assumes they are a rapist/racist/mugger or all three and defends themselves by beating them up, they shoot the kid.

      I’m sorry, Trevon beating him up means he was beating up the guy who was following him. And really, that shouldn’t be a ‘fact’ that needs to be included in this particular post. It’s just there to try and justify the violence done to an adolescent and make Zimmerman a ‘victim’ which is as preposterous as making anyone doing wrong a victim just because they get socked for it. That sounds a lot like victim blaming, to me and that’s probably one of the most painful problems…

      • Ambaa

        There has been a TON of victim blaming over this case :(

        • Rias

          Seriously… it’s depressing as crap…:(…

      • Hanan

        >defends themselves by beating them up, they shoot the kid.

        This is all nice after the fact, but think of this for one second and it is something the Jury had to think of: Martin is defending himself, right? What is Zimmerman thinking Martin is doing to him? When you figure that one out, you will understand why the Jury found Zimmerman not guilty.

        • Rias

          I think Zimmerman was doing something wrong in following a young adult at night when he’s not a cop and he had other options. And Zimmerman followed him because… why? I didn’t hear Trevon was shaking hands with doorknobs, or peeking into houses. He was walking home. There is no suspicious activity there aside from wearing a hoodie and being black at night.

          And it’s not all nice after the fact. And I just thought about it, and I don’t want to think someone can get a get out of jail free card just by getting beaten up for doing something wrong to begin with. It’s the thief killing you for you beating them up for trying to steal something from you scenario. Then everyone sympathizes with the thief. And that’s still victim blaming. Please, please look that up, and I mean that in the most respectful of ways because it’s serious. Why is Zimmerman getting beaten up for doing something wrong being put above Trevon’s right to defend himself? Why is Zimmerman’s rights above the dead boy who had done nothing more suspicious than walking home and ducking out of sight when a creep was following him? That I or anyone even needs to defend this kid against ‘oh, he beat Zimmerman up’ is frankly terrifying.

          So how about if it was someone that was a rapist with no prior acts? And followed someone, got beaten up and then shot the victim. Does that make the guilt more obvious? I hate having to go to these crazy scenarios, but that’s basically what’s being said. Victims, don’t fight back. Don’t fight back because if you do and you get killed it was your fault anyway for endangering your attackers life.

          • Ambaa

            If some huge and scary man (and Zimmerman is much bigger than Martin) was following me, you better believe I would scream and fight back. I’d totally attack him. Because I would feel like MY life was in danger. And if I were not white, it would be!

          • Hanan

            Actually, Martin is larger than Zimmerman. Here is the problem with all of this. Why should Martin have felt threatened? If you give Martin the benefit of the doubt that his life was threatened and he started the fight, then why not give it to Zimmerman as well? If that area was prone to robberies, and perhaps by other Blacks, I want to know which one of you, in all truth, would not find it suspicous seeing a tall black guy in a hoodie (at night). Sorry to say this, but wearing a hoodie is not a crime, but it does send an unintended message to others, especially in a place with past crimes. It’s a shame that Martin had to die. But claiming this is a race issue is sheer laziness and simply WANTING to stoke race issues.

    • Ambaa

      For me the wrongdoing started with following Martin. And Zimmerman never denies that he disobeyed the orders of the authorities and followed him. That fact is not in dispute at all.

      If he really believed his life was in danger, moving AWAY from the danger was the only reasonable course of action.

      He’s a vigilante and this is the reason why it is unacceptable for people to be vigilantes.

      I agree with Rias. It was not Zimmerman’s job to deal with the situation. Martin reacted in a very reasonable way to someone following him no matter which version of events you believe.

      • Hanan

        Zimmerman leaving his car is not a crime. Approaching Martin and questioning him (since that neighborhood has been robbed previous times before, as the jury heard) is not a crime. The problem in my opinion was the tone of your post and claiming Martin got shot simply because he “existed.” That is nonsense and the prosecution had no way of showing that. THAT is the point. I am in NO way blaming Martin for what happened. Not at all. The whole issue of the trial was whether Zimmerman murdered Martin, and given the facts about the fight, the jury did not believe (as there is no evidence for that) that the shot Martin out of malice, but out of fear for his life.

        • Ambaa

          He feared for his life based on his own delusional thinking. If someone can be killed because someone else is a lunatic and believes with no evidence that he is threatened, that law needs to change. Any schizophrenic could kill anyone they saw if all it takes is a belief that their life is in danger.

        • http://amarchotoprithibi.blogspot.com/ Andrea

          Part of the problem is that black bodies, even unarmed black bodies, are seen as so threatening that deadly force is considered justified.