I am of course referring to the Travyon Martin decision and the untimely death of Cory Monteith. Now, it could be because I have been under the weather but both have me emotional today.
First the case of George Zimmerman. Why did the “stand your ground” law apply to him and not Martin? Since when is it illegal for a teenager to walk home in their own neighborhood? I wrote this elsewhere but I don’t care about the altercation ended, I care about how it began. It began with Zimmerman following Martin and ended with him dead. Apparently the Defense argued that “Martin was not injured, except for the gunshot.” Yes, and aside from that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?
A commentator on Morning Joetoday made some very compelling arguments for how we process race. She said it’s not always a case of “there’s a person of another race, I hate them” but how we process usually happens much faster than that process can take. Do I know for sure that Zimmerman is a racist? No. What I do know is he told police “these fucking punks always get away”and THEN followed Martin. Personally, I think Zimmerman should have been charged with manslaughter and not second degree murder and that the prosecution overreached. I have to wonder why he stalked Martin and not just asked what he was up to.
Reactions to this case have been swift and visceral. Rallies for Trayvon have occurred all over the country while Zimmerman’s supporters have taken to social media. And the whole conversation of what it means to be black in America needs to happen. Watching Jonathon Capehart describe the “rules” black men have to abide by — something pretty unique to them– it just makes my heart hurt. Add to that the series of voter ID laws aimed at disenfranchising minority and older (especially older) voters and the recent decision on the Voting Rights Act and it reminds me of the John Edwards speech (never a good thing when he comes to mind) about “two Americas.” Two Americas, indeed. And that’s not even getting into stats on the number of African American in jail compared to their overall population. We have to stop treating people like they are disposable.
And now the other tragedy, Glee’sCory Monteith. I love that show. LOVE IT. While it may not have the sociological implications of the Zimmerman verdict, when a 31 year old dies — and it will be some time before we know how, it’s sad. Granted, people die every day and do not receive the attention a famous actor gets and that is worth talking about, how we value some lives over others. (That could also be taken in the context of race relations as this case may not have received the attention had Martin and Zimmerman been the same race.) It still makes me sad and yes, I was listening to my Glee radio on Pandora and nearly got weepy, not quite but it was touch and go for a minute. It’s impossible to say whether the actor’s issues with substance abuse were a factor in his death but it stands to reason that they were. Time will tell. I feel for his friends, family and coworkers. It must be hard to deal with a tragedy like this AND be in the spotlight. I hope they get some privacy butI doubt they will.
And I hope both tragedies can bring us something good. Maybe we will finally have that dialogue about race relations everyone keeps yammering about but never gets to. And if Monteith’s addictions did cause this, maybe people will seek treatment and their lives can be spared. Even if they did not cause or contribute, maybe seeing that someone as successful as he was had suffered with addiction will take away the stigma for others who need help with it. One can only hope.