I was outside in the garden already sweltering, when my wife hollered out to me that a verdict had been reached. It seemed, at the time, that her five words, “they found him not guilty”, turned up the heat on me ten-fold.
Since then, I’ve calmed myself. As much as I’m not surprised by the verdict I nevertheless wondered, how could that be? As the aggressor, how could he be found not guilty? Didn’t it occur to them that this young man had every right to defend his life from what he perceived to be a dangerous threat with the same fervor that George Zimmerman defended his? Where was Trayvon Martin’s right to stand his ground in all of this, I asked myself.
Now, as the verdict continues to be vetted this way and that, I understand how they got to that point. It’s that twisted and vague statute. Even if you concede that the verdict was brought without any sort of behind-the-scenes racial collusion, you have to admit that the court failed to provide any justice for Trayvon and his parents. And while justice is blind and can be notoriously unreliable, the scales generally balance. This time though something went terribly wrong. Again, it’s because the “Stand Your Ground” law, as it’s written, really doesn’t allow for justice; a decision made from the thorough and fair scrutiny of all the facts and both parties. Currently, it seems to favor the last man standing.
I’ve questioned before the prosecutions attempts to make this into a racially motivated case. Proving such hatred, without a preponderance of evidence, is a hard sell. We’re talking about Florida, remember? And as I said previously, it would be just as wrong if Trayvon Martin was a white youth. Understandably though, African Americans feel strongly that it’s so mainly because Zimmerman’s actions harken back to that time, not so long ago, when a black man could be killed on the streets, in front of witnesses, for simply disrespecting his white counterpart.
Unfortunately the verdict did little to stem those emotions; if anything, it intensified them. And while a call for action could be taken as a summons to commit violence, violence would solve nothing-would more than likely exacerbate the situation-and do little to respect the Martin family. Instead of that, what we need now is a concerted, well-thought-out type of action; the sort of protest that assisted people in the past in their struggles for social, economic and legal equality. I’m talking about boycott.
If there’s anything America understands, it’s money. Likewise, if there’s anything that will get Americans’ attention, it’s the moolah, again. For now, a particular group of Americans, aka the state of Florida, are content that justice has been done and the only way that their collective minds will be changed is through a strong, prolonged economic boycott of all things Florida, or at least those aspects of coin that we can affect. Start with Florida tourism; that means no more trips to Orlando, Miami, Key West or South Beach. Forget about Disney, take the children somewhere else. If you want to visit relatives, have them come north.
Other leisure activities should not be overlooked. A vast amount of money is being made through the sports franchises of the state. So, let’s boycott all Miami Heat games (Sorry, LeBron!) home and away, as well as the games of the Miami Dolphins, Orlando Magic, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. And we need to do the same for the Arena Football teams and minor league clubs, as well.
Such an embargo would not be an easy task. We Americans, both black and white, love our leisure activities. So, there is some hardship to be suffered if we do this. But if we are emboldened, it can succeed; history has shown us that. Two years before Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat to a white rider on a Montgomery Alabama bus, commuters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana stood up for their rights to ride in equal comfort to their others. In 1960, black consumers of New Orleans boycotted stores on both of the city’s main shopping avenues, seeking to end the shop owners’ use of segregated facilities and employment discrimination. Also in 1965, Activist Caesar Chavez organized the Grape Boycott, after an independent walkout of Mexican and Filipino farm workers, to highlight the hardship of migrant farm workers incurring low pay and unsanitary housing and working conditions. And more recently in 2002, Samira Ahmed organized wives of fighters in the second Sudanese Civil War to withhold sex from their husbands until hostilities ended.
Such an action would definitely be a wake up call not only for the Justice Department but also for the state of Florida, where “Stand Your Ground” change must emanate from. And change is what we want; we being any rational and fair American, not simply a black one. Change is what America demands; and if she doesn’t, she should. For any law that allows one man to take the life of another in such a frivolous and sanctioned fashion with little to no legal recourse is an unjust law and should not be allowed to stand. I’ve said before, today it was a young black male but who knows who’ll be looking down the barrel of a gun tomorrow. I’m just saying…