Tuesday, March 27, 2012

We Are Trayvon Martin

I entered my Critical Thinking Class and was faced with a dilemma. My teacher asked of us,"What topic would  you like to talk about today... Kony 2012 or Trayvon Martin?" I was very familiar with the hype surrounding Kony 2012 and previously in another class, the teacher touched on Trayvon Martin's situation. After my teacher's thorough approach on explaining both the Kony 2012 and the Trayvon Martin's case, the class picked the discussion on Trayvon Martin. Instantly I was upset, not because the class picked the discussion on Trayvon Martin but the story my teacher told in detail about it. A student played a recording of a neighbor calling 911 and you could hear in the background, someone screaming "help" which I assumed was Trayvon. For a lack of a better term, I was pissed. My teacher then asked a question along the lines of what can we do as a people to evoke change. In my anger, I started to question why we as black people have to fight so much. Every thing we want, we have to protest. Clearly, another method needs to come about. I feel like we scream, we yell but then we are soothed with a pacifier just for a while, then another situation comes up and we go through the whole process again. I knew we had to do something but I couldn't place my finger on it in that moment. At this time in the discussion, my teacher sensed our anger and reminded us to take the "balcony approach." Look at the situation from the balcony, not as a black person but as someone reasoning to make a change. He also reminded us to use our EQ. EQ or emotional intelligence is the ability to sense when one is, for whatever reason (i.e., disagreement, miscommunication), about to disengage from another person, and adjust-- in a timely way, to maintain engagement. It allows you to stay engaged with a diverse set of people while you formulate an effective intervention.This got me thinking. I re-positioned myself and thought.

Trayvon Martin is dead. His killer, George Zimmerman is free. He is not charged based on a law called "Stand Your Ground.." The stand your ground law states that a person may use deadly force in self- defense when there is a reasonable belief of a threat, without an obligation to retreat first. This is the law that is protecting George Zimmerman and making sure he stays free. So, in order for justice to be served, the law has to voided.  A student in the discussion pointed out that money is very important when it comes to our law makers. My teacher pointed out something very key. Key people like the chief sheriff stepped aside from this situation. To me it looked like they didn't want to get their hands dirty. Now, why would key people in state positions not want to get their hands dirty? This is where the money comes in place. We can protest all day, but what we need is change. Immediate change. To do so, we have to as a people find ways where we can get these legislators to start thinking about what we want them to do. Legislators are only going to make laws that benefit the people that are funding them. At this point in our class discussion, my teacher shared his insight. He basically stated we need to stop drinking orange juice and stop going to Disney World. I had a perplexed look on my face and then AHA, I got it! Oranges and Disney World represent two major things in Florida, agriculture and tourism. My teacher then continued to explain his position. When we dent the state's or corporations' revenue, we are denting legislators financial support. When we dent legislators financial support, we are forcing them to pay attention.

Let us keep wearing our hoodies and protesting, but also let us keep their attention span. They haven't seen anything yet!

Jode-Leigh Nembhard,
Purple Lipstick