Dear Black Americans -- please don't disappoint us. President Obama's speech last Friday and a series of hoodie marches on Saturday were great, but that can't be all you've got. We expect more from you. Black communities all over the world hope you will keep fighting for Justice for Trayvon Martin. We want you to use this moment to make change, real change. And we're watching closely.
See, you might not know us, but we know you. We read the history of the civil rights movement, we listen to your music, we watch you on CNN, and we read about you on The Huffington Post. We even celebrate the successes of President Obama as if he were our very own leader. So when you face injustice, we care. Our communities are upset about the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial and many of our young people are concerned about their own safety.
For example, this past Saturday in Toronto I attended a community forum to discuss the death of Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman verdict. Among the over 60 attendees were students, professionals, parents, and children of various cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Participants at the forum were from various countries in addition to Canada: Somalia, Jamaica, Nigeria, Germany, and Ghana, to name a few. All of the people in attendance were moved by the verdict in the Zimmerman trial and wanted to take action to improve their own communities. People suggested a variety of initiatives focused on a wide range of topics from human rights education to alternative justice models to policing literacy to increased civic engagement, and much more. In my time in Toronto I have not seen such a groundswell of interest in law, policy, and activism among young people. There is unprecedented opportunity to engage young people in important community-building projects. The Black Law Students Association of Canada also recognized this opportunity in its call for "critical consideration of race relations in the legal community and society at large."
Toronto is not the only example of international support of Justice for Trayvon Martin. Protestors in London gathered in front of the city's U.S. embassy last week demanding justice for the Martin family. African expatriates in the United Arab Emirates have also commented on how they've been affected by the Zimmerman trial. And conversations are happening in France about the injustice of the verdict.
None of the aforementioned places have Stand Your Ground laws. But, this case, driven by the influential role American media has in other countries, has given us all a chance to look at injustices across the globe. Many of us see ourselves in Trayvon Martin's hoodie and the inequalities we combat in George Zimmerman's smoking gun.
In order for us to make the most of this groundswell of interest in law, policy, and activism, we need Black Americans to embrace their responsibility as global leaders. Black Americans can be an example for us by continuing the fight for Justice for Trayvon Martin: advocate for the end of Stand Your Ground laws, end the practice of stop-and-frisk and other policies that make young black men afraid to walk the streets of American cities, and stop unfair sentencing of black defendants in your courts. These are the kinds of real changes that will inspire the rest of the world to keep addressing their own inequalities. This will keep progress in international news headlines. This will ensure American culture and politics are better represented to the rest of the world.
And don't forget that much of the rest of the world is on your side -- ready to support and help where we can. Sometimes it might feel like you're coming up against significant opposition in your country to make the real changes named above. If you look beyond your borders, though, you'll see overwhelming international support. There's a reason, after all, that the rest of us don't have Stand Your Ground laws. We think they're a bad idea and are happy to tell your country the same.
As the days and weeks go by, and the media attention fades away, we hope you will remember all the people, young and old, who are empowering themselves as leaders with inspiration from your example. It's up to you for justice to again be one of America's exports to the world.
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