Not guilty was the verdict rendered by the six women in the Seminole County Courthouse on the case known colloquially as the George Zimmerman Trial. It was a decision that was completely out of my or your control. However, what is entirely in your control is how one responds to the verdict. I have seen people celebrate that Zimmerman “got off.” I have seen people celebrate our imperfect, yet unquestionably superior criminal justice system. I have seen people espouse violent threats on the life of George Zimmerman. I have seen organizations such as the NAACP call for the Justice Department to launch a civil rights lawsuit against Mr. Zimmerman. But what I have not seen, especially from younger people, is a sensible, proactive response to what they perceive as injustice.
Typically, I stray from controversial issues on social media. Oftentimes the conversations on social media will turn into diatribes about a person, rather than intellectual challenges to ideas presented. Social media, in my opinion, can truly inhibit fruitful discourses on race. However, after the verdict I simply tweeted, “If you’re truly angry about the #zimmermanverdict study harder to become a lawyer who can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. #education” And for the second week in a row, my thoughts stem from something I saw in a movie.
We have all seen “Remember the Titans.” Well, there is a particular scene in the movie that sparked my response to the verdict. However, I must state that I do not include references to movies to validate my creditability, but rather to buttress my opinion with a universal reference. I will provide a quick summation of the scene, so that you may understand the reference.
Coach Herman Boone and Coach Bill Yoast have the newly integrated team at Gettysburg College to participate in a pre-season camp. Two of the main characters, Julius Campbell and Gerry Bertier, get into a scuffle that quickly evolves into a brawl involving the entire team. The lecture that Coach Boone gives the team is one that I find applicable to the post-Zimmerman verdict period. He says, “But any little two year old child can throw a fit. Football is about controlling that anger, harnessing that aggression into a team effort to achieve perfection.”
Though Coach Boone was talking about football, I believe his words can be translated to everyday life. In this life, we will encounter many situations that will not be ideal by any measure. However, your response to the instance will ultimately dictate the overall impact it had on your life. Calling for the murder of George Zimmerman will not improve our justice system or assuage the feelings of loss that the Martin-Fulton family will have to endure long after we have forgotten about Trayvon Martin.
However, gaining a nuanced understanding of law and the processes that accompany our judicial system will put you in a much better position to potentially prevent future injustices.
The jury has spoken and judgment has been passed. It is counterproductive to continually dwell on the decision. However, the issues of racial profiling (which was never definitively proven), the media’s role in race baiting, and the “broken” justice system are conversations that should continually take place if we strive to become a post-racial society.
I will leave you with the charge that Coach Boone left the team with after his tirade. He simply said, “Let’s go to work.” That is what we have to do now. We have to work to gain more knowledge about people different friom ourselves. We have to work to see others for more than the color of their skin. Gospel singers Mary Mary have a song called, “Can’t Give Up Now.” It highlights the many obstacles in life that we must continually triumph through the aid of God. The chorus goes, “I can’t just give up now. I’ve come too far from where I started from. Nobody told me the road we would be easy, and I don’t believe He brought me this far to leave me.”
The road to racial reconciliation will be and has been a difficult one to navigate. However, we have made too much progress in the arena of racial equality to turn back now. Remember that before we reach for anger, there is always a better response.
Tim Abram is a public policy major from Horn Lake. Follow him on Twitter @Tim_Abram.