One of the things I was not supposed to do, as a reporter for a publication that does not espouse a particular political view, was publicize my own political views. While I am finishing up a series on religion in that area, I am still associated with that paper, but we are at a point in our nation’s history when I feel strongly that something has to be done. Please accept my apology if what I say here or on Facebook somehow negatively affects the credibility of the organization for which I worked. My views are not those of the publication.
As I have mentioned here before, the only major disagreement between the editor and me was when I spoke up for my right to sign a petition. When I asked my friend, a former reporter for The New York Times and The Huffington Post, about that right, he defended my editor. Not having any education in journalism, I did not know that, as a rule, journalists do not sign petitions or register with political parties, understanding that any expression of political leaning could immediately be used by an opponent to dismiss all of your work. (This stands, of course, unless you write for Fox News or Mother Jones, where you are assumed to have particular political views.)
My friend added that not declaring allegiance to any party frees him to consider all sides of every story he does, and he therefore has opinions that do not fit neatly into one platform or another. I see that as honorable and to be admired.
During what has been a painful separation from a job that I loved, which has been compounded by the absence of any chance to say goodbye to the people I worked with every week for over a year, a positive result has been a feeling of relative freedom to say “publicly” what I think, which will grow once I have finished the stories I’m writing and completely stopped working there. (I say “publicly” because it’s not really so public; I don’t believe this blog is searchable or contains my name, and the only people who would ever read it are a number that can be counted on one or two hands of close friends and family, and possibly coworkers at the paper who might be afraid that Fox-on-Hudson will find out about me! For the latter, please rest assured that I have not become FB friends with any who would want to alert the opposing faction.)
So now that we’ve clarified that I’m preaching to the choir, let me just say how dismayed I am at the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. I don’t just mean dismayed — I mean saddened, angry, despairing. I am thinking epic proportions of mass national trauma. In this one court decision, everything that is wrong with race relations and attitudes toward gun ownership and violence in this country are put on display for all to see plainly. While people who like the verdict argue that it had nothing to do with race, those of us who see that it had everything to do with race feel at a loss about what to do about it, now that the laws have protected the killer. While people who think Zimmerman was innocent of any wrongdoing continue to believe justice is being upheld in this country and that they are safer because of the system, those of us who think Trayvon Martin was killed unjustly continue to grieve.
I go on Facebook and repost everything I read about the acquittal that I think best explains why people should still be thinking about it and trying to do something about it. I even go and write comments at the original sites.
American Federation of Teachers’ statement (“The disposition of this case is the antithesis of what we teach our children in school—that the law protects innocent victims and that no one has the right to take the law into his or her own hands. Everyone’s child matters.”)
Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America says we are all Trayvon Martin’s mother (“Stand Your Ground laws, which give everyday citizens more leeway to shoot than the U.S. military gives to our soldiers in war zones, endanger our children, families and communities.”)
I realized this morning that I am almost obsessed with it, while others are still going about their daily lives as if things were normal. I have signed petitions calling on the feds to take up the case, but it doesn’t seem like enough. What else can we do??
There was a time in high school that I felt the hopelessness and sadness that comes close to what I’m feeling right now. There was a presentation about going to college, including how to get financial aid, and one white boy got up and said he couldn’t get any scholarships because they’re only for minorities. This being in Arizona, there were only a couple of African American students in the crowd, and one of them spoke up angrily. An argument ensued, wherein it became obvious to me that most of other students thought the black girl was just being hysterical and/or hateful. I cried, and all I could think was akin to, why can’t we just all get along? Only now I know why we can’t just all get along: Some of the people in this country see the atrocities that are still committed against black people on a daily basis, let alone the lack of atonement for the atrocities of the past, while other people in this country don’t see them at all.
I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but I think that verdict really is affecting many people in an incredibly hurtful way, and whether or not you agree with the decision, you have to understand that healing is desperately needed, because the hurt is real.
Solace, however, did come in the form of posts on a tumblr site from people all over the country and even the world, where it is evident that more and more people are aware of the existence of white privilege and know that justice has not been served: We Are Not Trayvon Martin. That, at least, can be a source of some hope.
Now back to the job search … and much-needed, if profane, comic relief about “jobs” from that potty mouth, Louis C.K.