When the Verdict Came In

I remember being 12 years old when the Trayvon Martin incident happened. All I could understand at the time was that a man named George Zimmerman shot a young black boy named Trayvon Martin -who was unarmed with skittles in hand- for no reason. I didn’t pay attention to any of the other details as any 12-year-old wouldn’t, but I knew what had occurred was wrong.  

I was taught and raised to believe that if a person is being violent to another person, they would get punished. That was all I knew, and I thought Trayvon Martin would get justice. I was wrong, many were wrong.  

Image Via | Telegraph

On the night of July 13, 2013, I and my older sister were coming back from the movies, since my birthday was the day before. We were on the bus on our way home; everyone was on their phone and expressing to each other about how frustrated and devasted they were to what happened. My sister tried to figure out what everyone was making a big deal out of. All I could hear was that Zimmerman was found guilty. Not only was I saddened, but I was also confused.  

I felt lied to. Why was I being taught that violence is not the answer and that bad people go to jail when a GUILTY man was able to walk free? How can a man who was ordered by the responder to not engage but still did and killed a child while doing so not be taken to jail? How can people put the blame on a dead teenage boy who just wanted to go home? 

And this kept on happening. Repeatedly. If I didn’t see it on TV, I saw it on social media. Another innocent black life was taken away by gang violence, police brutality, racial violence, etc.; and no one is doing anything to stop it.  

I was tired and angry about what was going on. It didn’t make any sense at all. Every summer was like a war against black kids and no one seemed to know how to stop it.  

That is why when I heard about the Black Lives Matter movement, I felt safe in a way I hadn’t since the Trayvon Martin verdict. It made being young and black mean something to me. It’s like an invisible community of “radical” youths. The “new Black Panther Party” to say the least.  

It made me realize who I am is not a burden or an evil thing. It made me proud of who I am, and it gave me the knowledge I was never taught in school. It made me proud to be black.