(The Root) — I wanted to write something eloquent about George Zimmerman being found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter. It’s all that’s been on my mind since I was scanning Sirius stations Saturday night as I drove back to New York and heard a DJ repeating, “Not guilty? Not guilty? Not guilty?” Each time he said the words, his voice went up an octave, denoting his confusion.
I knew that closing arguments had taken place on Friday and the jury was deliberating, so I immediately knew to what he was referring. Not guilty. How? Why?
I thought this would be the verdict in the same way that I thought America would never elect (or re-elect) a black president — which is to say, I hoped that things would not go the way I expected, but I didn’t want to set my hopes too high and be disappointed. This was another rare instance where I wanted to be proved wrong.
And so I drove along screeching, “What? What? What?” in the same way that the show’s host had been saying “not guilty,” as if yelling my outrage would prompt someone to say “psych” or suddenly offer an explanation. The six jurors declined media requests, then on Monday one signed with a literary agent. There would be no quick explanations to help me at least make sense of the jury’s conclusion.
On Saturday night I mourned. It felt like the first time I’d heard of Trayvon Martin all over again. And when I thought that here I was, just some random woman in Brooklyn, N.Y., sitting on her couch feeling numb about the lack of justice for a kid I never met, thinking of my male friends and family who were essentially just told, “No, you’re life isn’t all that important, and any vigilante with a gun can take it without recourse,” I thought about Trayvon’s parents and how they must feel.
Trayvon’s name and face and story have become symbolic of yet another problem with the injustice of the American justice system. His face is plastered on T-shirts, posters and stickers. So many of us in a rage about this case project onto Trayvon the feelings we have for the cherished men and boys in our own lives. In his parents’ faces, we see the anguish tharwe would have, too, if it were our son.
Trayvon is our son only in the figurative sense, though. He was in every sense the son of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, who worked tirelessly to make the world take notice of what happened to their boy. Through this ordeal — and surely long after it’s no longer the top story on every news site — they have expressed a dignity and grace that many of us couldn’t fathom under the circumstances.
I am sorry for their loss, that of their son and of the case to hold Zimmerman legally responsible for his death. I can’t imagine the ache in their hearts that they will carry forever.
Each time I think of the injustice served in this case, I am mad and angry and pissed off and hurt and hopeless and scared, and a whole lot more feelings that I haven’t been able to process since Saturday night.