As I sit here thinking about the not guilty verdict of the George Zimmerman trial, my heart is heavy with grief, sadness and anger.
My grief is for the Martin family who had to effectively watch their son be murdered twice—once by Mr. Zimmerman and a second time by a system that refused to provide the justice they so desperately deserved.
I cannot imagine the pain of losing a son, but just the thought of it now brings tears to my eyes.
Right now, I simply want to say, “I’m sorry” to the Martin family. I’m sorry that you will not be able to see your son grow up to become the man you hoped he would be. I’m sorry that you had to endure the frustration, pain and humiliation of a trial that should not have been about your son, but about the man who took your son from you. I’m so sorry the system failed you, and my prayer is that you eventually get to a place of inner peace that comforts you and allows you to move on. My thoughts and prayers will always be with you.
I’m deeply saddened by the fact that millions of young black males around the globe will now feel invalidated, disrespected and expendable—that their lives don’t matter. Too many of them will surrender to the implied message that they don’t count, and therefore they will submit to the negative media-generated stereotypes of gangstas and hoodlums.
I’m saddened that too many of them will lose hope and decide that the system is so stacked against them that they may as well succumb to a life of mediocrity and give up on any dreams that they have.
I’m deeply saddened by the fact that there are people who actually celebrated the verdict and did not feel any compassion for the family simply because the victim was a black male. How can they celebrate the loss of life?
How can they not feel the pain of the Martins’ loss?
That saddens me—in a country that has come so far in race relations, we still have not accepted the fact that we are all human beings that deserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. No life is less valuable than any other, and our hearts should ache whenever anyone dies unnecessarily.
That is what hurts the most: Trayvon Martin’s death was unnecessary and preventable.
I’m angry at a system that does not accept the fact that justice isn’t blind, and it still views black men as “less than” human, a system that thrives on incarcerating young black men and refuses to look at the fact that the majority of our young men that are incarcerated in fact did not commit any violent crimes. Very few of them have ever taken the life of another human being, yet the media-generated stereotype is that we are the ones who are violent, non-caring, and angry.
I’m angry that our media has turned this into a black-and-white issue, when the reality is George Zimmerman happens to be Hispanic. I’m angry at a media that glorifies violence and too many times focuses on the violence perpetuated by black men when neglecting the violence perpetuated by other races.
Right now I’m filled with the grief, sadness and anger. I allow myself to feel these feelings because I know that they will pass. As I allow them to flow through me, I realize how I can use them to not only ease my pain, but to do my part in removing some of the rage and sadness that is currently being felt around the globe.
First of all, I remove my grief for the Martin family by saying a silent prayer for them and surrendering to a power greater than myself. Secondly, I make sure that I tell my own children how much I love them, and I make sure that they understand that they have value in who they are. I let them know that we cannot allow the media to define us—despite what the media says, we are lovable, intelligent human beings who are no different than any other group.
I remove my sadness by accepting the fact that, despite every obstacle that has been placed in front of us as black men, we have overcome them. Despite this tragic situation, I still remain optimistic about the future for black men, because we epitomize faith, courage, strength and resiliency. We always have and always will bounce back from tragedy—this too shall pass.
I will take my anger and channel it into action. I will continue my mission of empowering men to embrace a new paradigm of masculinity that I believe can help eradicate a lot of the anger and unnecessary violence that permeates our culture. The root cause of all violence is the emotion of anger; when we teach men how to redirect that anger, we begin laying the foundation for the removal of all violent acts.
It is now time to begin the healing process. Individually, we must heed the words of the great mystic Lao Tsu:
“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself; if you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”
I am committed to my own self-transformation, and my commitment is to empower other men to do the same.
Let the healing begin!