Like a lot of people, I was sickened but not shocked by the verdict in the Trayvon Martin murder case. In my heart and in my soul, I know that George Zimmerman instigated, stalked, confronted and then murdered Trayvon. But “heart and soul” is neither the evidence that the jury was presented with nor the context in which they judged the incident.
They decided that Zimmerman was “not guilty.” But “not guilty” doesn’t make him innocent. It just means the case against him wasn’t proven beyond a reasonable doubt. I sincerely hope Trayvon’s parents pursue a civil rights court case against Zimmerman, the way Ron Goldman’s family did again O.J. Simpson.
One of the most disturbing pieces of evidence in the case was knowing that for most of the encounter, Trayvon was on the phone. If I were the Queen of the Country, I would mandate a class, starting with fourth-graders, called “The Trayvon Martin Murder Case.” Every student would have to participate. And the first item on the syllabus for the class would be “Proper Cellphone Use 101.”
Many parents when they give their children cellphones, validate their major reason for so doing by saying that the child can have the phone available in case of emergency. The minor mindset is the knowledge that the child will use it to stay in touch with friends. Unfortunately in Trayvon’s case, the phone was used for the latter and the primary function of it was overlooked by both Trayvon and Rachel Jeantel (the girl he was on the phone with). All parents need to sit down and discuss the Trayvon Martin murder case with not only their tweens and teens, but even with the young adults in their household. All need to be reminded that calling 911, as well as calling home, when danger approaches is the proper thing to do. I will forever be sickened that neither Rachel nor Trayvon tried to call the police or an adult for assistance or guidance. Our young people, opting to handle situations by themselves, do not bring years of wisdom to any situation.
Another item on my agenda would be entitled, “Use the phone’s camera!” Without a doubt, I can state that every young person has a cellphone with a camera as part of its basic features. It is now almost a prerequisite for young people to post a picture of themselves online, aiming the camera at the mirror while posing for it. Imagine the difference it would have made if Trayvon had activated his phone’s camera to record the confrontation.
Even if the video didn’t show what happened, the audio portion would have been there to record the sounds. “Stand Your Ground” cannot be a legal defense when one is the instigator of the confrontation.
Next, there would be an agenda item called, “Hollering for Help.” We no longer live in a world where simply hollering “help” will bring it. But what is even more amazing is that in the hood, a scream for help will bring nosey neighbors to peek out. Yet in the community that was experiencing incidents and had a Neighborhood Watch, it was sickening to hear those 911 calls and the number of neighbors who were too scared to look out. Teach your children to holler more than just “help!” Add their name, or words like “rape,” “fire” and even “gun.” The victim is the one who hollers for “help.” The perpetrator doesn’t need to holler as his assistance is in the holster on his body.
Lastly, would be a discussion called, “Why English Matters.” When Rachel Jeantel testified, she would refer back to that time as “when Trayvon died.” But what she should have said was, “when Trayvon was murdered.” Words have power and “dying” sounds so natural and passive, as opposed to “murdered,” which sounds criminal and intentional.
Then get that person to make a commitment to Trayvon’s memory — that he will do something positive to affect society.