Why Were We So Jubilant And Despondent After The Zimmerman Verdict?

Why Were We So Jubilant And Despondent After The Zimmerman Verdict?
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Supporters of Trayvon Martin rally at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C., to press the federal government to investigate civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, Saturday, July 20, 2013. The National Action Network has organized simultaneous rallies in more than 100 cities. (Andre Chung/MCT via Getty Images)
Supporters of Trayvon Martin rally at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C., to press the federal government to investigate civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, Saturday, July 20, 2013. The National Action Network has organized simultaneous rallies in more than 100 cities. (Andre Chung/MCT via Getty Images)

There have been few times in the typical American political debate where many whom are politically active and not have had such strong sentiments toward a single incident. It is also extremely rare to have a tragedy that affects so many of us played out in the national media to such an extent.

As the Zimmerman trial gained more notoriety, just about every American was glued to the television and online. Whether you spelled Trayvon with an "e" or without a "y," you knew something enormous was gestating.

The election of the first black president, the execution of Georgia's inmate Troy Davis, the murder of Oscar Grant, the Sandy Hook and Aurora massacres and the exposure to whistelblowers Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden didn't provide the American public with fodder for such hopelessness, disbelief and jubilation as the the Zimmerman trial did.

Why did this case pierce the schemata of so many Americans?

Race for many Americans is something that's much easier to compartmentalize and disconnect from than to actually have a real discussion on how we're all affected. This is not something that one race is subjected to and something another race never encounters.

Those of privilege don't want to feel or be seen as though the American system benefits them at the expense of others. And those whom are the victims of the racism within the American system don't want to be lesser than their peers; they'd rather convince themselves of immunity.

Really, race is and always will be an issue in America as long as the country exists. The fact that we are even having a conversation about race that elicits so much passion from people who hold starkly different ideologies is evidence in itself that race still matters.

It's frustrating watching the debate around this issue dissolve into pundits and leaders using this case as on opportunity to further their agenda, instead finding a problem and solving it unilaterally.

If two factions of the U.S. problem see race issues from an almost polar opposite perspective, then why not focus on why this has come to be instead of fear-mongering about the precedent this sets for future Americans.

This should be a teachable moment in how we form our perceptions and the power behind the words we use to describe each other.

For instance, somebody who doesn't understand the concept of racism in America is not by default a racist because they haven't had certain experiences to shape their perception of the world as Obama so eloquently emphasized in a press conference on Friday.

And those that are worried about the precedent the Zimmerman trial creates are not racial pimps and hustlers. To them, this case reinforces the view they've grown up with: America is a country out to get them.

I don't know if George Zimmerman's perceptions were rooted in racism, but it is a possibility. And the fact that so many of us are so absolute in whether or not race did play a factor in the killing of Trayvon Martin purports that we are aware of race.

The unfortunate part about race is that it we all look different, making it easy to be castigated by the hegemonic group; the great part about racism is that we are all affected by it in some way.

Ninety-nine percent of politics is about being on the winning team. It's easy to bash your opponent over his or her policy because we cannot always understand how policy affects our daily lives. Race on the other hand is a different story.

We see race in whatever we do. We understand race in our sex lives, the company we keep, the neighborhoods we live in, the schools we choose to attend and the music we consume.

Becuase of these facts, I find it difficult to understand how anyone can be celebrating over the events that have transpired since early 2012; there are no winners in this Zimmerman case.

I have noticed that some people are trying to claim victory in the acquittal of George Zimmerman, but are finding it difficult to justify why they display mirth at the death of an unarmed teenager by the hands of an armed adult.

When people rejoice at the acquittal of George Zimmerman, they're forced to ask themselves, "Why am I this happy over such an issue?" They have to ask themselves this question especially after seeing how this verdict devastated what little sense of security many black mothers had for their black sons.

If you can express glee at the death of a teen, the deterioration of another man's livelihood (George Zimmerman will never be able to live in peace) and the devastation of two families and friends of George and Trayvon, then being a called a racist is the least of your problems.

Comedian Dave Chappelle once explained in an interview that to dismiss someone as crazy is about the worst thing you can do to a person -- it's as if to say the people who are grieving and trying to peacefully change the culture of racism are not warranted.

It's no different than saying the the prosecution's star witness Rachel Jeantel was "inadequate toward everyone because of her education and her communication skills." Should it really matter if someone seems inadequate? Shouldn't the substance of one's testimony be the focus of any verdict?

Is not one of these protesters' concerns not legitimate?

Meanwhile, black athlete like New York Giants' wide receiver Victor Cruz and Atlanta Falcons' wideout Roddy White are upset at the verdict while jokingly wishing death on the jurors who were judging a case based on the evidence they received in court -- not the evidence the rest of the nation was given.

Did not one of the jurors make an informed decision based on the law with the selective information the judge allowed in court? And if they did, is it their fault they were making a decision based on very limited evidence?

Blaming a juror for making a decision based on the facts they were given is like blaming a student for not understanding calculus when they were only taught geometry.

Blaming the whole jury based on the blacklash from one outspoken juror is like blaming a race of people for the actions of a few.

How ironic.

The most baffling thing about this whole ordeal is that it exposes our weakness as Americans. We, in the United States, are currently incapable of having dialogue with one another without raising our voices, becoming defensive and casting stereotypical allegations.

We are a nation of fans who just want to be on the winning team even if it means people's lives are ruined.

We are a nation of teams. We are Team Zimmerman vs. Team Trayvon, Team Bhite vs. Team Black, Team Racism vs. Team Race-Baiting, Team Guns vs. Team Gun-Control.

If you think your team won in this trial, ask yourself, "At whose and what expense?"

The United States used to be a nation of intellectually strong minds that challenged the paradigms of the time. Now, we seem to be a nation of physical prowess (i.e., guns, military power, athletic ability, workplace dominance, etc.) with the mental capacity of a toddler whom was just asked by their teacher to share a toy with the rest of class.

What has me optimistic about this case is that it's causing people to seriously think about the role race plays in our lives. We have an opportunity to realize our shortcomings and be better than what makes us belittle one another's experiences.

How America reacts to this case is telling of what we are willing to sacrifice in order to become a more perfect union. Can we sacrifice our egos, our teams and challenge the way we understand the world or are we too weak and lazy to do things that make us cognitively uncomfortable?

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