The Zimmerman Verdict: When Parenting Went From Possible to Imperative

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Me and mom celebrating year 29

“You prepare for disappointment, but nothing ever prepares you for the moment.” – Me

In the weeks leading up to the verdict in George Zimmerman trial, I told everyone that I thought Trayvon Martin’s shooter was going to walk. Told them the second degree murder charge was excessive and that it was a 50/50 shot on the manslaughter. In a system not built to protect us, ironically, “these assholes always get away.”

I was more struck by how quickly the verdict came. It all seemed so anticlimactic. I expected it, but one is never truly ready for the moment of confirmation. I was a little angrier, a little sadder and a little more introspective than I thought I would be.

The following Sunday, I put fingers to keyboard and typed out a short status update about being on the fence about having children in a world like this. Not surprisingly, but sadly, a lot of people knew where I was coming from. I don’t have any children, but I imagine that being able to protect the ones you bring into the world is a top priority for parents. The Zimmerman verdict threw a lot of that into doubt for me.

We can teach our sons how to talk to the police and it still doesn’t help. We can teach our daughters how not to get raped (a failed experiment since we should be teaching men/boys not to rape, but I digress) and it still doesn’t help. When the right things turn out to still not be the lifesaving things, the one-two punch combination of inadequacy and powerlessness kick in.

After tweeting that he was “stunned” by the verdict, Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade echoed the sentiments I’d have if I were a parent – and the sentiments I now have about being a parent.

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How do you explain to your kids that they’re not like everyone else? That their very existence is enough to make people fear for their lives? That those baggy pants or skinny jeans (or whatever kids will be wearing in the future) make people get the wrong idea? That loud music can cost them their lives? That dad (and mom) cannot make the world see the fullness of their humanity and the beauty in their blackness. And because of that, they become moving targets.

It’s the questions, word to Common.

While it doesn’t seem fair to bring a child into the world under these conditions, it also seems unfair not to. Struggle is in our DNA. As my uncle crooned, it’s been a long time coming, but I know change gon’ come. There is no change if there are no people to usher it in.

At this point, parenthood is an uncertain option, but a necessary one.

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One thought on “The Zimmerman Verdict: When Parenting Went From Possible to Imperative

  1. Years ago when my son Brian got in a fight in middle-school he was arrested for battery and personal robbery of chrome valve-stem-covers. The parent of the white kid was a known drug dealer. She made the claim that her boy was robbed a beaten by this big black kid… She left out the fact that the boys were friends since kindergarten. Brian was picked up from campus by the Clark county School dist. Police and charged with the crime. We went to court and proved it was an altercation started by the white boy. While in court, she told her son they were going to win because he is white and Brian is black so the judge will believe us and not them. The judge looked me in the eyes as said, “We need to nip this in the bud.” He charges Brian with a felony assault and battery and robbery. Then sent him to juvenile detention for the week end and sentenced him to 6 months community service. Had it not been for my association with persons of a higher court, Brian would have this on his record for life. Upon hearing my story, judges that I knew from the higher court sent the case back to the juvenile services were it was overturned and the record was cleared. The juvenile court referee was later removed from his appointment and can longer hold judgeship in the State of Nevada; Poetic justice. It took three months to accomplish this. Sometime later that same drug dealing parent was in the news alongside her daughter who had had a teenage boy killed on Sunrise Mountain. Just think, the things we Black folks endure and some people wonder why we see cases of racism at every turn.

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