No, I am not an expert in African-American affairs. I am not a world-renowned journalist with a big microphone. I am a simple, ordinary American citizen keenly aware of the world around me. Thank God for that.
Annually, journalist and social commentator Tavis Smiley hosts the “State of Black America’ discussion forum. Smiley and other prominent black leaders come together to discuss issues affecting communities of color. Although these discussions are passionate and well-meaning, they just don’t change very much. Could it be that those really needing to hear these discussions are not listening? Are we doing too much talking and not putting our words into action? Whatever the problem, we need to actively seek solutions and the sooner the better.
Personally, I have witnessed enough to hold my own discussion panels. People of color, black people in particular, are facing some very serious problems and unfortunately, many of them are self-inflicted. Don’t get me wrong, I am PROUD of my African heritage. But there’s no time like the present to be painfully honest about the societal ills crippling these communities. It is the only way for real progress to be made.
Please understand that I am not writing to you from some highly exalted position of personal achievements. The foundation of my success skyscraper is still being laid. Rather, I write to you from the basement because it is only through humility that God can lift me high enough to survey the landscape. Neither is this a self-aggrandizing exercise towards the immortality of S. Denice Newton. I am simply on a mission to awaken the black community and raise awareness of the various vehicles leading to destruction.
The naysayers have told me that I’m wasting my time because if people in high positions of authority are failing to ignite fires of change, then I have little to no chance of doing so. The doomsayers suggest that the mess that has been created in black America is too big for any significant change to be implemented. They would have us to believe that black people are cursed and doomed to failure. They are giving the impression that black people are destined to struggle, fail, and die young. This bears no truth at all but we have to take a honest look at the cancers that are destroying us from the inside out.
It is downright painful to see what has befallen a royal people. I’m moved to tears to see crowns of regality and scepters of nobility reduced to thorns of self-hatred and instruments of violence. It is truly disheartening to witness generational curses of victimization and dependency become perpetual standards of living. We have, in many ways, become our own worst enemy. Tell me, what has happened to those people that endured great trials and tribulations through the dark periods of oppression and injustice?
Where can we find the warrior-spirits that stood firmly on hope and faith during the ills of slavery? Who knows the dwelling place of the trailblazers and pioneers of yesterday that were able to see triumphs of tomorrow through tears of today? I am particularly concerned about today’s black youth. Far too many of them are unable to see beyond the RIGHT NOW because they haven’t been taught that there must be responsibility and accountability for their futures.
Many of us are so blinded by the desire for material gain that we seek them by “any means necessary.” We have become deafened by the thunderous sound of pleasures that lead to immorality and desensitized to those things that the Bible teaches as being wrong. Consider this for a moment: if slave ancestors could stand before us this very moment, would they be satisfied with the overall progress of black people or would our shortcomings be the first thing that they see?
The acknowledgment of truth is the first step to change.
As a child, I was taught that lying was an awful thing and that I should refrain from doing it. If I got caught in one, my butt paid a high price for it. But to me, lying was a necessary evil. At times it got me out of trouble, allowed me to get what I wanted, and granted me the opportunity to shift blame for things that I did on someone else.
But as I aged, I learned that lying only led to more troubles and issues. It took a while but I finally got to the point where I would tell the truth at all costs, even if it hurt me badly. People can forgive and accept the truth a lot easier than a lie. Once I became a Christian, I knew that lying would no longer be an option for me. Don't get me wrong, I can't honestly post here that I haven't lied recently. But what I will say is that I didn't intentionally lie or commit a premeditated act of lying.
That leads me to the Trayvon Martin case. I read that George Zimmerman thought that this whole thing would just blow over. Seriously? You executed an unarmed child and thought that it would just blow over as though you stole his bag of Skittles? But it hasn't blown over and it won't anytime soon.
So now Zimmerman's mouthpieces, his lawyer and another friend, are claiming self-defense and talking about what an absolute great guy George Zimmerman is. Surely the shooting of Trayvon was in self-defense because anything else would be out of line with George's impeccable character. Again, really? His dad is a former judge. George Zimmerman has had three charges erased from his record, one a domestic violence charge. A goody two shoes indeed. Zimmerman's version of events is devoid of logic and reason. He stalked Trayvon, confronted him and eventually killed him.
Of course, in his mind, this was a young, black male that didn't really count so no one would be harmed by his death..except maybe his family. But old Georgie boy didn't anticipate millions of people getting involved and shedding light on his crime. So, how does he handle it? He starts a series of lies to cover his murderous butt.
He's now saying that Trayvon was the aggressor, punched him in the nose for no reason, got on top of him and banged his head into the pavement, prompting him to pull out a 9mm gun and shoot him. In one unconfirmed report Zimmerman is quoted as saying that Trayvon tried to get his gun. When you're trying to build a self-defense response to a crime and it unravels, what's a murderer to do? Lie, and then lie some more.
Keep your eyes and ears open to this because you can rest assured that as more details emerge, more lies will be spewed.
I won't begin this letter with the usual salutation of "dear" because the much used term is defined as beloved one, kind or generous, or much loved. While I'm sure that your family and friends hold you in those regards, your words and actions in the Trayvon Martin case disqualifies you from being called a "dear." At least in my eyes.
Let me issue this infallible truth before proceeding: God loves you George Zimmerman, in spite of yourself. You are a part of his greatest creation. That said, so was 17 year old Trayvon Martin. You do remember him don't you? In case you don't, he was the unarmed young boy walking through the Twin Lakes gated community in Sanford, Florida back on February 26, 2012. He was the one that you executed. He was the child that begged and pleaded for his life before you pumped a bullet into his chest from a 9mm weapon of destruction.
When you spotted the young man, right away your antennas of suspicion were raised because in your mind, a young black male just does not belong in a gated community. Right away you called law enforcement and stereotypically reported that this suspicious-looking person was a black male that looked like he was on drugs or up to no good.
When Trayvon noticed that you were watching and following him, he became alarmed, put his hoodie on his head, and tried to lose you as he talked to his girlfriend on the cell phone. You followed him even after being advised by the 911 operator not to do so. You continued in your pursuit and eventually caught up with him, demanding to know why he was there. Trayvon questioned you, wanting to know why you were following him and what he had done wrong. His girlfriend on the other end of the cell phone heard the entire confrontation up until the point that you shoved him, causing the headset to fall.
Now, at that point, no one except you, Trayvon, and God knows what happened. Your claim is that as you walked back to your vehicle, Trayvon attacked you from behind. You then pull out your gun and used deadly force to deal with the much younger, much smaller, unarmed "menace." But there is so much about your sequence of events that makes absolutely no sense George.
You're claiming self-defense but anyone with a modicum of common sense understands that one acting in self-defense does not pursue an aggressor and aggressors don't beg and plead for their lives. Neighbors report hearing some sort of altercation and afterwards, blood-curdling screams of help from Trayvon Martin.
Law enforcement arrives and take your word of self-defense without interrogation or further investigation. Trayvon was bagged up and taken to the morgue where he lay on a cold slab for three days before his family was notified. I'm curious to know why police didn't go door-to-door to have Trayvon identified. Why did police try to get witnesses to change their accounts in order to support your self-defense theory? Why didn't police bother to call phone numbers in Trayvon's cell phone in order to contact family members or for identification purposes?
Let me tell you what you took from us George Zimmerman. By all accounts, Trayvon Martin was a mild-mannered, non-confrontational, good kid that was admired and well spoken of by students, friends, and teachers. Now, in this day of "malign, mistreat, and demonize" black males, Trayvon was a jewel. You took that away from his family and the black community. You appointed yourself judge, jury, and executioner.
In their extreme grief, Trayvon's parents went on a quest for answers and justice in the murder of their son. Trayvon had been failed by law enforcement, the media, and those who should have been able to protect him or at least ensure that justice is meted out. When news of his murder finally hit the mainstream media, things began to change. You can believe that right will be vindicated and wrong will be judged.
Your evil intent, whether fueled by racism or some other motive, drove you to use deadly force on an unarmed child. Your story is ludicrous. If you followed and confronted Trayvon and retreated back to your vehicle as you claim, then why, pray tell, would the boy come out of nowhere and attack you? Why would he do that knowing that you had a problem with him being there in the first place? It truly defies logic.
Now, my personal opinion is simply this: you committed a premeditated act of murder and were fully aware of Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law when you pulled the trigger. You felt that your self-defense claims would be validated by the law. But what you didn't anticipate was the overwhelming international showing of support for Trayvon and his family. What you didn't consider is that the controversial law does not apply to this case. What you didn't know was that black people and others have grown tired and weary of the hate, bigotry, racial profiling, and stereotypes of black men.
You couldn't have known that by darkening Trayvon's light, you ignited fires of protest and unity around the country. Trayvon Martin is now the son of millions of black, white, Hispanic, Asian and people of other races. You killed, assassinated, and executed an innocent child and you will pay at some point. My prayer is that your callous disregard for life and justice does not cause further division between the races. We don't need Black Panthers, Ku Klux Klan, Skinheads, or any other hate group getting involved in this issue. It will only worsen matters and lead to more assaults or deaths.
A day of reckoning is coming for you George Zimmerman and if it isn't done through the American justice system, then prepare yourself, if you can, to stand before a righteous God that will fairly judge and hold you accountable for your actions for infinity and beyond.
S. Denice Newton
March 25, 2012
Singing Without Song
I love this photo of Trayvon Martin and his dad Tracy. It depicts the love and adoration shared by a father and son. Recently, Tracy Martin was recalling the chain of events leading to his son's murder to a news reporter. He said that Trayvon died just yards from his back door. I could hear the agony in the father's voice as he spoke about the tragedy. Each time that I hear the 911 recording and clearly audible screams of "help me" in the background, I think my heart breaks a little more. At seventeen, Trayvon was still a child. The fear and anguish in his voice directly contradicts the "self-defense" claims by the shooter George Zimmerman. Now, about those screams. Although they are painful to hear, they have reached beyond racial, gender, socio-economic, and political borders. They have reached the ears of parents, family members, neighbors, friends, schoolmates, and others. Those screams are resounding around the world today and there is a grassroots movement of change in the atmosphere. A revolution is underway. Not one of me versus you or us versus them. It is a revolution that yells, "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!" Too often we congregate in our circles and talk about issues without actively pursuing change. But Trayvon's screams have opened up an international platform that allows anyone and everyone to have a voice. He is everyone's son, black, white, Hispanic, or Asian. Right now, George Zimmerman's attorney is out disputing the racism charge and pushing the self-defense theory. He has to. If this was a racially-motivated shooting as I suspect that it was, then it certainly falls within the "hate-crime" category which means Zimmerman can be prosecuted on those grounds and therefore, uncovered by Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground Law." As hard as it is to listen to that child plead for his life, I will let his screams be the guiding force for more teaching, mentoring, and reaching out to youth all over this country.
As a mother, my heart hurts when I listen to the Trayvon Martin 911 tapes. In the recording, this 17 year old is clearly heard pleading and screaming for help before being executed by a self-appointed neighborhood watch vigilante. While no one knows for certain what happened between the time George Zimmerman saw Trayvon walking through the gated community and the time he was killed, it is not a stretch to conclude that something quite sinister occurred.
This man, George Zimmerman, claims that he was concerned about recent break-ins in the area when he saw the young, black male walking in the neighborhood. Zimmerman calls police and reports a "suspicious" person. He is then advised not to follow the "subject." The young man had gone to a convenience store during half time of the NBA All-Star game and purchased a can of ice tea and a bag of candy.
While talking to his girlfriend on the cell phone, Trayvon tells her that he's being followed. She advises him to run. He puts the hoodie on his head and walks quickly to "lose" Zimmerman. A few short minutes later, the child is shot dead as his killer stands over him. I wasn't there but this is my interpretation of the events:
Trayvon Martin was walking through the gated community in Sanford, Florida when he was spotted by Zimmerman. Reacting to stereotypes of young black males as thugs and criminals, he began to follow the unsuspecting teen. When Trayvon finally realized that he was being followed, he told his girlfriend about it as they talked on the cell phone. I can believe that he became alarmed and fearful, trying to run away. Zimmerman was determined to confront Trayvon because in his warped mind, the black boy didn't belong there.
Once he caught up with Trayvon, he began to harrass him about being in the complex. Not knowing what wrong he had committed, Trayvon resisted and questioned Zimmerman's actions. I believe that Zimmerman put his hands on Trayvon--perhaps grabbing him to keep him from walking away. Trayvon likely swung at Zimmerman to get away and a fight ensued. I can believe that the teen knew that his life was in jeopardy and fought back with all his might. Zimmerman was fully aware of Florida's "Stand Your Ground Law" and knew that if he shot Trayvon, he could hide behind the controversial legislation. He claimed self-defense and the police didn't bother to question him further or investigate to see if his claim was valid.
Trayvon Martin was unarmed. Perpetrators don't retreat or cry for help. One defending himself, don't chase perpetrators. Trayvon was shot down in cold blood and his death treated with indifference by law enforcement. He was a son, brother, classmate, and human being. He did count. He was not less than. He didn't deserve to be executed. There is something profoundly wrong with this whole scenario and sequence of events and as we await facts in this case, I pray for justice and change in a law that gives any armed person free reign to kill anyone that they deem a threat, real or imagined.