Demonstrators are participating in nationwide “Justice for Trayvon” rallies, and as of this writing, despite what you may hear from the trolls among us, the gatherings have been 100% peaceful.
Responding to the trial, Los Angeles Times columnist Sandy Banks had a great piece up last week, “Heartsick and numb over the Zimmerman verdict… George Zimmerman’s paranoia became Trayvon Martin’s crime.”
Today's column was equally insightful and covers a relevant topic that I haven't seen mentioned in depth anywhere else: Teen protesters and how they differ from their protesting predecessors. Their mindset and needs differ from those who marched before them for a number of reasons that she explains beautifully.
They feel they are not being listened to by adults. Banks points out how their civil rights battle is different from previous ones, and how they see don't see Trayvon Martin as "a product of centuries of racial injustice or a cry for policy changes," but for them, this is more of a cultural issue about how they dress and look, about guns, and about being profiled because they are young and black.
She makes it clear that "youths ache for adults to let them speak for themselves."
And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent -- using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain...
So -- so folks understand the challenges that exist for African- American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it or -- and that context is being denied. And -- and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different. ...
We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?
Sandy Banks takes it from there. Quoting Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who heads the Community Coalition who has worked with hundreds of young people in that education and community program:
"This is not your grandmother's civil rights movement … walking slowly, carrying signs... They don't do things the way we do. And we don't know how to organize or control it."
Banks also quoted Timothy, 16, who has been working with the coalition:
"We see the adults talking for us, and we don't really get a chance to be at the forefront. Then when we do get a chance, it comes out kind of violent, like we saw on Monday night."
The civil rights establishment is going to have to change its tactics and its focus to get this younger generation on board.
"Everybody who was born after the riots, we've never really been through this," Timothy pointed out. "Before Trayvon Martin, we didn't have that kind of feeling of injustice."
Banks ends with this:
They're more concerned with getting guns off the streets than putting Zimmerman on trial again. And they don't need to gather in Leimert Park, when they've got hundreds of like-minded friends as near as the apps on their cellphones.
The people of this country have a lot to learn, but only if they're willing, would pay attention, and would take the time.
Please read the entire article here.