Monday, July 22, 2013

Getting #JusticeForTrayvon


"Today is a defining moment for the status of my father’s dream. Whatever the Zimmerman verdict is... in the words of my father, we must conduct ourselves on the higher plane of dignity and discipline. Trayvon Martin will forever remain in the annals of history next to Medgar Evers and Emmett Till as symbols for the fight for equal justice for all." 
-Dr. Bernice King
As a young Black man in America the night George Zimmerman walked out of court a free man, I was reminded once again what kind of conditions people of color face in this country. Obama was quoted on Friday, “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” since actions speak louder than words I would hope the president and the first African American Attorney General, Eric Holder, continue the federal investigation and charge Zimmerman for the tragic crime he committed.

Many people want to be colorblind, or say 'if George was black' and 'if Trayvon was white' and whatever else. At the end of the day you put it like this. A child was walking on the street. Yes he might have smoked weed in the past, maybe he enjoyed stupid things like gold teeth. What 17-year old doesn't do stupid things or questionable things in their teenage years. This same child was approached by a man that had a criminal past, which somehow was continually exonerated partly in thanks to his father who was a judge. This child was followed by a man who seemingly took the law into his own hands. This boy carrying skittles and an Arizona was approached by a man armed with a gun. Whatever scuffle may or may not have ensued this man decided that he would be the sole judge, jury, and persecutor, and take the life of a child. Whether Trayvon was White American, or Latino, or Asian, he was a child that had his life taken. Taken by a man who played a god and decided when that child's life would end.

Let us remind ourselves that Trayvon Martin was an African American child in the state of Florida. Let us not flatter ourselves as Americans and think that somehow within the last 50 years we were able to accomplish the eradication of racism and reconciliation of 400 years of minority oppression. ESPECIALLY in the south. One can look to the stories of slaves used as alligator bait in the state, the countless pictures and paintings are hard to refute the dark past. This is the state Trayvon was supposed to by tried fairly in. This case further troubled me as I have a lot of family in Florida. My cousins in high school aren't safe to walk the streets at night when any vigilante can shoot them dead in the name of self defense and stand their ground. Prosecutors like Angela Corey that are soft on murderers like George Zimmerman let to go free. And hard on mothers like Marissa Alexander (20 years jail), should be fired. Nonetheless, The Trayvon case has passed, the verdict dealt. What has happened, happened, the past cannot be changed. What cannot happen though is stagnation in our present time. There cannot be the twiddling of thumbs or the watching of Love and Hip Hop and other mindless media outlets.

Dream Defenders occupying #TakeOverFL
The time is now more than ever. Organizations such as the Dream Defenders headed by Phillip Agnew in Florida have been occupying the state capitol in Florida since July 16th and demand legislative change from Governor Rick Scott. The law they demand is the Trayvon Martin Act and a petition for it can be signed here. Martin Luther King Jr. once said "An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Even beyond the color lines these Stand Your Ground laws and statutes provide the scary opening for countless law backed executions. There should never be a law supported by the government that allows for the murder of another human being even if said murderer had the ability to flee the scene. We as citizens of these United States of America cannot stand and watch the murders of children and others so barbarically. The time is now. On Saturday, vigils around the nation were held in honor of Trayvon Martin. In NYC Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon's mom, was met by the Rev. Al Sharpton, stars Jay-Z and Beyonce, and a massive crowd. She was quoted:

"As I sat in the courtroom, it made me think that they were talking about another man. And it wasn’t. It was a child, who thought as a child, who acted as a child, who behaved as a child. And don’t take my word for it. He had a drink and candy. So, not only — not only do I vow to you to do what I can for Trayvon Martin, I promise you I’m going to work hard for your children, as well, because it’s important."

NYC vigil Saturday Photo Cred: NY Post
What are we going to do from this point forward? If you are in Florida I would immediately go to and see what you can do to show support and solidarity with our brothers and sisters down south. This year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's legendary March on Washington and his powerful "I have a Dream" speech. How I wish I was there that day when Mahalia Jackson sparked the flame that led to the fiery speech to be known for generations to come. As we enter the month of August many events will be taken place mostly in DC in commemoration of his march and to continue his legacy. is the official site with all the information and on August 24th there will be another March on Washington headed by Martin Luther King III. Numerous civil right activists have pledged their attendance as well as the parents of the deceased brother Trayvon Martin. Obama may have said some nice words that hopefully reopens the conversation of racial profiling in our communities. However, a man is not judged by his words but by his actions and as he leads this nation we shall see what his true colors are with his following actions or lack there of.  This should not take away from the fact that within our own communities and through solidarity with other communities, we do not take action. We should not be complacent, not be pacified by the propaganda that tries to pass off as news. We are all born with the God given ability to accomplish great things. If you have a talent use it to better yourselves within the community. I blog because I feel like I need to have my voice heard and to reach out to those who don't necessarily find another outlet to receive news. Whatever your talent, reach out to a local organization, a local church, a neighbor, a school, pressure our state legislators. Make sure that we are paving the way for a better future.

Every 28 hours, nation wide, a black man is shot down by a police officer, security guard, or Zimmerman-like vigilante. Precious six month old Jonylah Watkins and countless other people are killed in Chicago due to obscene gun violence. 90 shootings fatal and non fatal have occurred in the Greater Boston Area are we still #BostonStrong? There are racial injustices, class warfare, gang violence, a hyper prison industrial complex locking up our brown and black brothers and sisters. Our poor people of all races, our people of color, are scraping to get by in this economical caste system created by a capitalism-perverse society, economy, and government. Hopefully Trayvon did not die in vain and that through his death we can further analyze the vast problems faced in this nation.

We need justice for Trayvon Martin, justice for Marissa Alexander,  Cece McDonald, Jordan Davis, 15 others cases in Florida of Stand your Ground acquittals, and the many more fallen, incarcerated, forgotten people in our country.

A version of this post was featured in The Enterprise on July 31, 2013 titled: Hopefully Trayvon Didn't Die in Vain 

Written by: E. Rey


  1. Brother Elijah , I couldn't agree more with what you have said so's so frustrating to be in a country that swears diversity and justice yet so much injustice is at every corner. Studying health disparity has really opened my eyes to all this but to get back to the point, what do you see coming out of this (lets say 3yrs) ? Do you think we can persuade the Florida governor to make amends or new policies ?

    - Peatros

    1. First off let me thank you for taking the time to read and comment on the post my brother. 3 years from now I'm not sure. I see the continued snooping of our internet files by the NSA, the USA's extreme pursuit to prosecute Edward Snowden, the eradication of our middle class, things are going in a negative direction, I feel like democracy is being greatly compromised. I do think that the Dream Defenders in Florida have a real movement starting and I do see policy change if this movement keeps growing.

    2. Yeah that perfect image of America that my family and I had when we left Eritrea is quickly changing as I continue to educate myself... this country is great but it definitely has many flaws our generation can hopefully address and god willing fix.

      Keep challenging us mentally my man!

  2. This a very passionate piece Elijah. I feel myself very unqualified to speak on the case, as--much to my chagrin--I didn't follow the case. However, you're keen eye didn't let a moment or detail pass--you and many others--in pursuing justice. Because I didn't follow the case, maybe I was a bit optimistic going into the verdict: I actually thought Zimmerman would be found guilty. History has proven that optimism, probably in a rather banal manner, very unfounded. It's not as if the CJ system particularly, and the legal architecture more broadly, hasn't been fraught with a pervasive, institutional refusal to recognize black humanity: 3/5th clause of the US Constitution, the Dred Scott case, Emmett Till, the failure to prosecute lynchers in postbellum America, the begrudging and perennial wearing away of affirmative action, a racist death penalty, the attack on voting rights and the rest of the "bloody catalogue" (as Baldwin called it) of abuses the US's legal system continues to update. "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

    1. Thanks man I appreciate you taking your time to read and comment on the blog. I too was hopeful for the case and I would have to quote Dr. Cornel West in saying 'I cannot be an optimist but I am a prisoner of hope.' I think the criminal justice system disproportionately is an attack on the minority and if you read Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow it puts a whole lot of things into perspective.