The George Zimmerman Verdict

As you are probably aware, last Friday evening a jury of six women found George Zimmerman not guilty in his murder trial for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The prosecution’s case rested on the belief that Zimmerman was an overzealous and angry citizen-watch participant who took out his frustration on an African American teenager. The defense’s argument was that Martin attacked Zimmerman and that Zimmerman pulled the trigger of his gun in self-defense. Martin’s family and friends vehemently argued that Trayvon was a gentle young man who would never attack anyone. Zimmerman’s family and friends argued just as vehemently that Zimmerman would never harm anyone without strong provocation and at the threat of his life. The verdict was left in the hands of the American justice system.

It’s pretty easy for white suburbanites like me to say, “Trust the system.” It’s something else entirely to ask people of color, particularly African Americans, who have been betrayed for decades by the system to trust it. It’s pretty easy for people whose skin color possesses most of the power in our nation to feel that the verdict ended it, that it’s done and over and it’s time to move on. It’s something else entirely for people whose skin color has meant mistreatment, marginalization, and powerlessness to just “let it go.” For many African Americans this verdict symbolizes the inherent injustice of our justice system. This was reflected in some of the tweets that were posted following the verdict.

Comedian Steve Harvey: A Child is Dead & The Man that Killed Him is Free & Again The Child is Black…My Country Tis of Thee?

Professional basketball star, Dwayne Wade: WoW! Stunned!!!! Saddened as a father!!! Some1 make sense of this verdict for me right now please!!! Don’t worry I’ll wait…

Professional basketball player, Kendrick Perkins: America justice system is a joke.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver, Stevie Johnson: Living in a world where you fight dogs; you could lose everything (Mike Vick)…If you kill a black man you’re not guilty!

Somehow, our nation must come to grips with the injustice of color that is still a reality for far too many. Despite the gains that have been made and the attitudes that have changed, there is still a long way to go. I know of no simple solution. I know of no easy fix. I do know that we who claim to follow the One who continually broke down barriers of race and gender must commit ourselves to find solutions, to be solutions to bring hope for something better than what far too many experience.

I don’t know if the jury’s not guilty verdict is right or wrong, if it’s justice or injustice. I don’t know if the result would have been different had Trayvon Martin been white (I have my suspicions). What I do know is that on the night of February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida, a young man’s life was snuffed out by a bullet and another man’s life will never be the same because he pulled the trigger. I do know that God is grieved and so should we. So I’m asking myself and asking you to ask yourself, What inherent prejudice is still in me for which I need to repent? What can I do to bring hope to someone who, because of race, gender, creed or disability, feels marginalized and despairs of true justice? If we help one person we have done the work of Christ.