I live in Seminole County, Florida. The same county that held the George Zimmerman trial. While I understand that this case affected, and will continue to affect the entire country, it is especially close to home here. The Mayor of Sanford was Number One’s football coach. I feed the homeless two blocks away from the Seminole County Courthouse. Sanford is a wonderful city only ten miles away from my own.
Like much of the country, I was engaged in this trial, watching it daily. At the end of the testimonies and after listening the the jury instruction, I believed that LEGALLY George Zimmerman would be found not guilty. And he was. That does not negate the moral aspect of the trial.
I am not an attorney. I was not a jurist. I am not a black woman, nor am I the mother of a black teen. I do not own a gun.
This trial made me sick to my stomach. Not due to “shady tactics” or a gross misstep of the law. I was sick because I believed and still believe that whatever verdict was handed down by the jury would be wrong. There would be no winners in this case.
Today, the day after the verdict, I drove cross state with my children on a normal summer day. We stopped for gas, we went out to lunch, we visited a Central Florida resort, we went to the grocery store. For one of the first times that I can remember, I was conscious of the race of everyone around me. I pumped gas next to an African-American man in his early 20′s. He was cleaning out his car with extraordinary care. The kind of care present only in the proud. I smiled at him. He smiled back. I thought to myself ”He could be Trayvon Martin”. There was a older white gentleman one pump away eyeing the same man. He looked pained. I smiled at him as well. He smiled back. I assumed he was having my same thoughts.
At the pool at the resort, several middle aged men walked by. Any of them could have been George Zimmerman. Good, happy, family focused men who could at some point find themselves in a situation where a bad decision could be made. A tall, thin, African-American boy sat on the chair beside me. I smiled at him. He smiled back. I offered him a bottle of water. He graciously declined. He could be Trayvon Martin.
It is my personal belief that had either of the two men in the headlines made different decisions in regard to each other, we would have never known their names. Did they profile? Why did Zimmerman get out of his car?? Why did Martin not just go home?? These are the questions that have kept me up at night. These are questions that will never be answered. In my small world today, I was expecting to see nothing but hatred and ignorance. I was expecting it from everyone I encountered. It wasn’t there. That makes ME the asshole. That expectation makes me the exact thing that I feared. I assumed that everyone besides myself was incapable of rational thought and behavior. I assumed that every black family would be huddled indoors hugging their teens tight and that white families would be feeling guilty for it. My experiences today were the opposite.
It appeared to me that everyone was trying a little bit harder to bridge the gap. The centuries-old gap that became wider at 9:22 last night. Here in Seminole County, it seems that people of all races are attempting to close that chasm. I feel humbled.
I am part of a mixed-race family. We are what we are… short, tall, brown, white…. WE ARE. I have never noticed skin color more inherently than today and I hated it. And while I am so dissapointed in myself for profiling my entire city and believing that the residents were incapable of rational thought, private mourning or discreet jubilation, I am so happy to have been proven wrong.
I was raised in the South. I am 40 years old. This is the first time that I have first hand experience of “white guilt”. But I also saw the light.. the light created by everyone trying “just a little bit harder” to extend kindness and understanding to those around them. I’ll keep looking for that light, it’s a bright one.
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Filed under: Dear Diary
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