“After Trayvon: Where do We Go from Here?”
By Saffie Kamara
In August, Districtly Speaking held a town hall on the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin case and George Zimmerman verdict. Panelists for this discussion included Harrison Reed, sophomore, Towson University, Claritza Jimenez, TV & Digital Producer, Associated Press, DeShuna Spencer, Editor, emPower Magazine, Sean Taylor, Federal Lobbyist & Vice-President, The Furman Group and Emily Morrison, Political Researcher, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The town hall was sponsored by Ask Cherado and Sky Real Estate.
As panelists and community members gathered to discuss the controversial Trayvon Martin story, Jimenez shared statistics based on people’s reactions to the verdict.
“According to the Pew research, 39% of Americans were satisfied with verdict, 42% were dissatisfied and 19% didn’t want to speak on it. Out of the Americans who were dissatisfied, 86% African Americans were not satisfied,” Jimenez said.
These statistics showed that there was a racial divide among some individuals.
“A lot of white Americans thought that this case focused too much on race and African Americans thought that it was about race,” Jimenez said. Meanwhile, others did not see it from a racial perspective.“I didn’t look at it from a black and white stand point I looked at it from a stereotypical profiling stand point,” an audience member said.
Nonetheless, among people in the town hall, it was agreed that there was someone’s life who had been lost.
“Black or white, you still killed a kid, why didn’t you listen to the police officer who told you not to follow Trayvon,” an audience member said. Although this issue involved a kid, it will never change the fact that Trayvon was still a 17-year-old African American boy who would never live to see his 18th birthday due to profiling.“What this case meant for me, was that it was object ably reasonable to be afraid of a young black man. It is not okay for people to kill someone just because they are a black man,” an audience member said.
As this story relates to many young African American men such as Reed, who was the youngest participant on the panel, he shared his dissatisfaction with the outcome.
“People need to be more educated,” Reed said.
Reed was not the only young adult to be dissatisfied with the verdict.
According to a Pew Research report from July 22, statistics showed that 53% of those under 30 were dissatisfied with the verdict. Meanwhile, 50% of those ages 65 and older were satisfied with the verdict.
Reed also shared his thoughts of the case including President Obama’s response to the outcome.
“It was like an elephant in the room, everyone expected President Obama to say something about it,” Reed said.
However, there were opposing arguments about President Obama speaking up due to the color of his skin.
Spencer felt that if President Obama spoke up too much, he would suffer negative consequences.
“If you talk a little about race you might scare people. It scares me because I’m afraid something bad might happen to President Obama,” Spencer said.
An audience member agreed with Spencer that President Obama’s future would not be a bright one based off of the history of past leaders in the black community.
“How can we say the President needs to speak up more when we are not united ourselves? Anytime we had a leader who spoke up for us and made us more self-sufficient, he was assassinated,” an audience member said.
The town hall left many participants asking questions as to why race is still an issue in America.
Taylor being one of those with this question also wanted to know where the realization of skin color came in. As kids, skin color is not an issue. However, as we age, skin color can be all we see.
So After Trayvon, where do we as Americans go from here?
As for Morrison, she believes white Americans should have more discussions about racial issues.
“White people need to put their skin in the game,” Morrison said.
The responsibility is not just in the hands of the white community but in the black community and other communities as well.
“We need to change how we see ourselves and then change how others see us,” Spencer said.
Saffie Kamara is recent graduate from George Mason University. She is the Vice President of a women empowerment organization called My Natural GMU and works for Districtly Speaking as a town hall assistant.
Contact Saffie: firstname.lastname@example.org / Follow Saffie @JuscallmeSaff