Beyond the verdict: What Blacks must do now

Casey Thomas | 7/26/2013, 2:13 p.m.
I’m not a writer, I just have something to say.
Casey Thomas

The Dallas Examiner

I’m not a writer, I just have something to say.

Unfortunately, last Saturday I was speechless and stunned by the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. After hearing the makeup of the jury and the remarks of juror B-37, I should not have been. Like most of those in Black America, I went through a grieving process as I questioned the thought process of this jury. The jury was made up of all women, in which five of the six were White women who share more life experiences with Zimmerman than Trayvon Martin.

It was obvious from her comments that she lived in a different reality from Martin. From the affectionate way in which she referred to Zimmerman as “George,” to the way that she referred to Martin as “that boy.” When she shared in her interview that five out of the six jurors believed that Zimmerman was the person yelling for help on the 911 call, I knew that he would probably get off.

I believe it lifted the spirits of Black Americans throughout the country to see our president, Barack Obama, step to the podium at this past Friday’s press briefing and share before the nation how he knows what it feels like to be racially profiled. How as recently as nine years ago, even though he was chair of the Harvard Law Review, an Illinois State Senator, and a well-respected leader in the Chicago community, he had people follow him as he went into a department store. He eloquently stated that Martin could have been him 35 years ago, and how it was important for us as a nation to check our personal biases. The fact that now is the time to create opportunities of success for young Black boys and men, and how we need to look in the mirror and address Black-on-Black crime.

These remarks came on the eve of the call for rallies in over 100 cities throughout the United States by the National Action Network, led by the Rev. Al Sharpton. Here in Dallas, the Dr. Frederick Haynes III, pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church and head of Dallas NAN called a rally at Dallas City Hall to address issues that affect Black men beyond the verdict in the trial.

As thousands came out to make their voices heard regarding their disagreement with the verdict of the Zimmerman trial, many of those in attendance and others who were not able to be present began to ask, “What next?”

I believe a logical first step is to begin a conversation with Black males about what to do when confronted by authority figures, whether they be police officers in the case of Clinton Allen, who was shot seven times by a Dallas Police Officer, or transit officers as in the case of Oscar Grant, whose story is the critically acclaimed movie, Fruitvale Station, or rogue neighborhood crime watch leaders, in the case of Zimmerman.

Another step is to build grassroots support that will lead to legislation that will outlaw racial profiling in the state of Texas. I have already had a conversation with State Rep. Eric Johnson regarding this. If we can successfully build the necessary momentum leading up to the next legislative session, we will be able to do in Texas something that could be a model for the rest of the county.

We see that we have our work cut out for us, and we have no time to waste. If we take action that will change our community and change our laws regarding how Black men are looked at in this country, Martin would not have lost his life in vain. Let’s get to work!