Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

Opinion

After Zimmerman verdict, Trayvon Martin isn't only victim

  • zimmerman protesta.jpg

     (Gabriel Lerner)

  • zimmerman_protests_oakland4.jpg

    July 14, 2013: A woman spray paints along Franklin Street during a protest after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin, early Sunday in Oakland, Calif. (AP/Bay Area News Group)

  • zimmerman_protests_oakland2.jpg

    July 14, 2013: Marchers burn a United States flag outside a fast food restaurant during a protest after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin in Oakland, Calif. (AP/Bay Area News Group)

Remember how angry you felt watching people celebrate O.J. Simpson's acquittal? Reactions ranging from "hallelujah" and "praise Jesus," to outright cheering, justifiably turned stomachs.

Multiplied by the anonymity and viciousness of social media, similar behavior after George Zimmerman's acquittal was just as disturbing.

Now that the verdict is in, whether you are numb, simmering, or celebrating, ask yourself, where do we go from here?

The Zimmerman trial raised valid questions about our criminal justice system. Questions that should be discussed and debated as vigorously as the case was in the media.

While the country is fixated on #JusticeforTrayvon shouldn't we also broaden the focus in an attempt to save all the other Trayvons that haven't yet been taken down by a bullet?

Are "stand your ground" laws enforced equitably in the 24 states that have them?

How many abused women are sitting in a prison for standing their ground?

Due to unconscious bias, do jurors value the lives of black men less than others?

On the other side of untempered jubilation, some responses to the verdict imply that if the predominantly white jury had convicted George Zimmerman it would mean black men's lives were valued in America.

Personally, I refuse to empower one jury, comprised of six women in Florida, to serve as the ultimate barometer of how we value my father, brothers', and nephews' lives. A truer measure lies in how we all respond to the murder epidemic plaguing minority communities.

Still reeling from a verdict that defied common sense, some believe Zimmerman's acquittal indicates "open season" on unarmed black men in America.

Using hyperbole to disguise the harsh reality of black men systematically hunting each other long before Zimmerman profiled, pursued, and killed Trayvon Martin isn't particularly helpful.

While the country is fixated on #JusticeforTrayvon, shouldn't we also broaden the focus in an attempt to save all the other Trayvons that haven't yet been taken down by a bullet?

The number one cause of death for young black men in America is murder. Most likely by a black man with an illegal gun, not by the police or a racial profiling neighborhood watchmen.

Rarely dothese murders receive a fraction of the attention and organizing resources that have been directed at holding Trayvon's murderer accountable.

The entertainment industrial complex revels in this ongoing "fratricide" and the mainstream media selectively highlights some of the more abominable activities, but largely America turns a blinds eye.

Are their lives less valuable than Trayvon's?

Have we been conditioned to disregard the murder of African-American boys and men unless they are killed by someone of another race or ethnicity? Now that folks are paying attention, what should we demand?

Petitions and peaceful protests calling for federal civil rights charges to be filed against Zimmerman will continue as urban communities drown in the blood of black murder victims without marches and saturated media coverage.

Blacks are 13% of the population and 50% of murder victims. Understandably, if you are committed to saving the lives of black men, signing a petition feels like using a spoon to empty a lake.

Some have rightly zoned in on repealing "stand your ground" laws. The roots of these laws come from feminist advocacy to protect domestic abuse victims who use deadly force to fend off abusers.

Perverted by the National Rifle Association and American Legislative Exchange Council, all attempts to curtail these dangerous and overreaching self-defense statutes should ensure there are no unintended consequences for battered women.

Though dangerous and directly linked to an increase in killings, repealing these laws would barely scratch the surface to address the staggering loss of black men's lives.

Now that America is paying attention, we can start by valuing their lives more.

The stupefying fact that the United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid is indefensible.

Clear and consistent racial bias within the educational and criminal justice systems creates a funnel for the 32% of black males that will spend time in prison. Play-dates don't exist in the hood and gangs serving as childcare fuels the cycle of violence.

Activists used social media to draw national attention to Trayvon Martin's murder. Can the same relentless -- and successful -- pressure applied to the media and local, state, and federal officials be unleashed to demand that funding for K-12 arts and music programs, after school programs, and sports be increased in urban communities?

If states really do determine how many prison beds they will need in ten years by looking at third and fourth grade reading scores, Head Start funding decimated by the sequester needs to be restored. Immediately.

It costs $70,000 to implement a successful gun buy-back program. Surely there are philanthropists who can pony up that amount and more.

Are hoodie wearing allies -- Kim Kardashian, Mylie Cyrus, Lena Dunham, Andy Cohen, Judd Aptow, Drew Carey, Olivia Wilde and all their peers -- who were rightfully angered and activated by Trayvon's murder just as motivated to address the ongoing "fratricide?"

When a moment of silence for Trayvon at a concert is a necessary and touching tribute, imagine the impact thousands of "moments" at every concert can have, Beyonce?

Nevertheless, until we thoroughly address absentee fathers who refuse to take responsibility for the babies they produce with multiple mothers and young women having babies without the means to support them or the maturity to mother them, government social programs alone will never succeed.

Comprehensive sex education and increased access to birth control are imperative, but only a band-aid for a deep wound. We desperately need famous faces to cease and desist the glorification of promiscuity that runs rampant in "black culture."

Black leaders -- you know who you are -- you must stop manhandling your peers who choose to speak out about the staggering numbers of black babies born out of wedlock.

Shame on those folks who ostracized Bill Cosby for speaking the truth!

Thank you, President Obama for addressing this crisis at times. Please sir, can we have some more? And while you're at it Mr. President, please use your bully pulpit to encourage states to focus on following the American Bar Association's recommendations to address “racial and ethnic bias in the criminal justice system.” It includes recommendations for the DOJ as well.

We have a history of disagreeing with jury verdicts in America. From O.J. to Casey Anthony and now George Zimmerman. Being outraged that people are outraged defies common sense.

The increased attention is an opportunity that doesn't come along very often. Conventional wisdom is that elevated crime rates in black neighborhoods is a "black thing." Absolutely not, it's an American thing.

As whites, Latinos, and Asians, continue to link arms with African-Americans across the country, marching in solidarity for Trayvon, we all must come together again tostop the senseless slaughter of young black men. What better way to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trayvon's life was valued?

Jehmu Greene joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in November 2010 as a contributor based in the New York bureau.

See the latest updates on the hottest midterm races from Fox News

Full Elections Coverage →

Keep up with all the 2014 races in

Coverage →