These are the moments that make the other moments of attempted unity more difficult, more hollow, for many among us. Before giving into the polarized reactions that the Trayvon Martin story has elicited from its onset, we might practice a little empathy for those for whom the case represented a great deal more than George Zimmerman’s fate.
My thoughts race tonight to the family of Trayvon Martin, who fought so hard through personal emotions and the initially indifferent public reaction to deliver attention (and by extension, they hoped, justice) to their loss. But tonight especially, my feelings go out to everyone for whom this judgement is just vindication of the existing fear and trepidation we force them to feel for simply existing as they were born.
The spotlight cast onto Trayvon’s story has provided brief illumination to the countless similar stories of innocent people gunned down by other people whose brains boiled over in a combustion of long-brewing bias and all-too-ready access to a trigger. And that’s what guns remain to some unacceptably high percentage of Americans: a mechanism of protection against our fellow citizens, particularly those who for some time, weren’t fellow citizens at all. Stand Your Ground laws, backed by the most reactionary elements of our society, have rewritten our most basic and longstanding rule — murder is wrong — to protect those who murder as a result of their own fear.