The Tragedy of Trayvon

It seems to me that eradicating racism in America is like trying to take eggs out of a cake. It can't be done; it's too late. The last few days have been a sad state of affairs for race relations in this country. Nobody won. We all lost a little piece of ourselves when the jury came back with a not guilty verdict.

The one thing that is the constant in this entire disgusting experience is that Trayvon Martin is dead. Not injured. Not paralyzed. Not in a coma. He's dead. It's so final. It's the other side of the story that we'll never get.

And George Zimmerman is alive and acquitted. Picking up his life, collecting the murder weapon and waiting for the civil suit certain to come. He's alive and his story continues.

A lot of people have said they were not surprised by the verdict. After all Florida is the state where the further north you go, the further south it gets. But I was and still am shocked. And my heart is heavy. In my naivete, I was convinced those six women would convict Zimmerman at least of manslaughter since, well, he got out of a car when he was ordered not to, followed then rolled up on and killed a teenage boy armed only with skittles and some tea.

Yet the logic of the argument -- the one that says he should have stayed in his car and left the boy alone -- is lost on an entire 50 percent of the population. The defense did real damage to an already circumstantial case by introducing into the jury's subconscious the notion that Trayvon somehow deserved it because he could have been a thug and he had the temerity to strike back. Except that he wasn't a thug and even if he was, Zimmerman still would not have the right to shoot him just for walking down the street. All this talk about Zimmerman's right to "stand his ground" but what about Trayvon's right to stand his ground?

Social media has blown up, falling hard on both sides of the issue. And it's repulsive on both sides. I had the most vulgar and disrespectful exchange on Facebook with the sister of a close friend that devolved into physical threats, nasty political diatribes, accusations of bigotry and pronouncements of facts about a person who isn't alive to defend himself. And for the record, we were both at fault.

Perhaps we have been lulled into thinking that because a black man is the leader of the free world, we have evolved into a post-racial society and anything can be said unfettered. We have not evolved beyond these centuries-old boundaries and the Zimmerman trial has dug up all the racial ghosts of the O.J trial along with the seething hate and distrust that is constantly the elephant in the room. Or perhaps President Obama's mere presence as the first black president has widened the chasm? Looking at the constipation of Congress it would seem so.

What I know is nobody wants to talk about race. But we must have these difficult conversations, get uncomfortable and find a way to put aside our assumptions about people who are different from us. Nothing changes until it becomes personal and we need to all take this very serious issue personally, because God help us if the next generation inherits this pain. Pardon the pun but there is no "black and white" when it comes to how to deal with subconscious judgments made in nanoseconds by every human being about another human being. It's an ugly grey area, a swamp of hundreds of years of division.

Right when I think we're making progress, we're not. There is a great seething racial wound in this country. And anyone who thinks there is not is deluded. Its time to talk and time to listen to the other side.

R.I.P Trayvon.