Why the Trayvon Martin Murder Case Matters…Peace Be Still…

Hello World…

I woke up this morning with that hollow, sinking feeling that overwhelms you when you have someone has broken up with you and you realize that you have to go through the routines of a regular day although your heart has been punctured…I was stupefied and saddened by the news late last night that George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Benjamin Martin on Feb. 26, 2012.

It seems that most of my attorney friends on FB expected this travesty to happen based on the progression of the court case. I, on the other hand, hoped that despite how the defense seemed to wield a stronger case, justice would prevail because at the end of all of the legal gymnastics these two facts were all that mattered: George Zimmerman pulled the trigger and he pursued an unarmed teenager…But I guess my naivete has forever been shattered…It doesn’t matter what happened…It only matters what you can prove…at least in court…

I’m a die-hard history buff…I love analyzing how events that transpired years and years ago shape current events…Although I am glad God chose my life to be a part of this time in human history, I must admit that to some degree I have been jealous of those that came of age in the ’60s…They were able to craft and execute the masterful civil disobedience that makes it possible for me to enjoy the many freedoms that I and other black people enjoy today in this country…I would guess that in spite of how life threatening their actions were, they were enthralled and emboldened knowing that they were doing God’s work and that in having something to die for, they had found a reason to live as had been said before one way or another…Why do mention history this morning? I will forever be changed by the election of President Barack Obama twice!!! Finally, I have been a witness to a miracle that I know will forever affect the history of this country…And in a mysterious way, I feel like that has happened again…I firmly believe this case will be written about years from now as it is the case that demonstrates for all the world to see that somehow black life – particularly the life of black boys – doesn’t matter as much as the lives of others…It’s ugly…but it’s the truth…

I’m not saying that everyone is racist, and black people don’t have positions of wealth and power as never before in the history of this country…But what I am saying that in the totem pole of justice, black people, black boys and men, in particular are on the lower end…no matter what happened…Here are some facts that I pulled from the Center for American Progress website

1. While people of color make up about 30 percent of the United States’ population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned. The prison population grew by 700 percent from 1970 to 2005, a rate that is outpacing crime and population rates. The incarceration rates disproportionately impact men of color: 1 in every 15 African American men and 1 in every 36 Hispanic men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men.

2. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. Individuals of color have a disproportionate number of encounters with law enforcement, indicating that racial profiling continues to be a problem. A report by the Department of Justice found that blacks and Hispanics were approximately three times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop than white motorists. African Americans were twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police.

3. Students of color face harsher punishments in school than their white peers, leading to a higher number of youth of color incarcerated. Black and Hispanic students represent more than 70 percent of those involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement. Currently, African Americans make up two-fifths and Hispanics one-fifth of confined youth today.

4. According to recent data by the Department of Education, African American students are arrested far more often than their white classmates. The data showed that 96,000 students were arrested and 242,000 referred to law enforcement by schools during the 2009-10 school year. Of those students, black and Hispanic students made up more than 70 percent of arrested or referred students. Harsh school punishments, from suspensions to arrests, have led to high numbers of youth of color coming into contact with the juvenile-justice system and at an earlier age.

5. African American youth have higher rates of juvenile incarceration and are more likely to be sentenced to adult prison. According to the Sentencing Project, even though African American juvenile youth are about 16 percent of the youth population, 37 percent of their cases are moved to criminal court and 58 percent of African American youth are sent to adult prisons.

6. As the number of women incarcerated has increased by 800 percent over the last three decades, women of color have been disproportionately represented. While the number of women incarcerated is relatively low, the racial and ethnic disparities are startling. African American women are three times more likely than white women to be incarcerated, while Hispanic women are 69 percent more likely than white women to be incarcerated.

7. The war on drugs has been waged primarily in communities of color where people of color are more likely to receive higher offenses. According to the Human Rights Watch, people of color are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than whites, but they have higher rate of arrests. African Americans comprise 14 percent of regular drug users but are 37 percent of those arrested for drug offenses. From 1980 to 2007 about one in three of the 25.4 million adults arrested for drugs was African American.

8. Once convicted, black offenders receive longer sentences compared to white offenders. The U.S. Sentencing Commission stated that in the federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10 percent longer than white offenders for the same crimes. The Sentencing Project reports that African Americans are 21 percent more likely to receive mandatory-minimum sentences than white defendants and are 20 percent more like to be sentenced to prison.

9. Voter laws that prohibit people with felony convictions to vote disproportionately impact men of color. An estimated 5.3 million Americans are denied the right to vote based on a past felony conviction. Felony disenfranchisement is exaggerated by racial disparities in the criminal-justice system, ultimately denying 13 percent of African American men the right to vote. Felony-disenfranchisement policies have led to 11 states denying the right to vote to more than 10 percent of their African American population.

10. Studies have shown that people of color face disparities in wage trajectory following release from prison. Evidence shows that spending time in prison affects wage trajectories with a disproportionate impact on black men and women. The results show no evidence of racial divergence in wages prior to incarceration; however, following release from prison, wages grow at a 21 percent slower rate for black former inmates compared to white ex-convicts. A number of states have bans on people with certain convictions working in domestic health-service industries such as nursing, child care, and home health care—areas in which many poor women and women of color are disproportionately concentrated.

I don’t have the energy or desire to rehash the the particulars of this case…And frankly, unless you have chosen to not stay abreast of the news, you know what went down…A dark night. A unarmed black teenager in a hoodie. Skittles and ice tea. A neighborhood watchman armed with a gun. Fill in the blanks…

I’ve been praying for God’s will to happen as far as the result of this case, and I trust God’s will has been done…And this morning and in the days to come, I hope no one sees fit to riot…In fact, this morning, in spite of my sadness, I feel peace (easy for me to say I know as I’m not a part of the Trayvon Martin family). It is the type of resolved peace that comes when you know that you can no longer ignore truth and you must take deliberate action…what that action is this morning, I don’t know…But God allowed this verdict to happen and God will show us the way to go from here…

Why the Trayvon Martin murder case matters is because the collective veil has been lifted as someone said on FB last night…And now we must be armed with peace not a piece…

Peace Be Still…This song is on my heart this morning…Let’s lift up the Trayvon Martin family in prayer…

Any thoughts?

 

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One thought on “Why the Trayvon Martin Murder Case Matters…Peace Be Still…

  1. Thank you for posting Jackie. I have been in and out of tears since last night. I desperately want to post on my blog, but can’t even organize my thoughts enough to do so. Thanks for speaking up, thanks for speaking out …