Editor’s Note: In the aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial and verdict, there has been protests, conversations and soul-searching. We recently met with our VoiceWaves Youth Reporters to discuss issues of Race, Profiling, and our own experiences and the way we view other people. The Youth Reporters then tackled the hardest question, “What Now?”. What are the lessons we should all learn from this shared national experience?
Just be who you are, because you can never change other people’s mentality. Do what’s good, and prove them wrong.
I am not a color, I’m a human being. I am a breathing, thinking, talking organism. I think we as humans separate ourselves whether knowing or unknowingly. “What race are you from?” We immediately [go] to that part of the country where we were born, then [to] our parent’s. and so on and so on. When in reality, we all come from the same origin, the same stardust, the same god, the same planet. To consider ourselves another race would not be appropriate since we are all the same race — the human race.
I think these incidents have been dramatized, without direction. It gives me a little bit of an uneasy feeling, the way the public has hit the streets ready to battle the world, when they do not know the battle, or the enemy. There should be some discussion to break down the issue of race, because it seems the general public has a lot of feelings about it. No one talks about race, and when incidents like this happen, everyone seems to jump. I would like to see coalition building between races, because those types of discussions really allow people to get past their harsh feelings towards others.
It’s time to stop focusing on race. We can’t change our race. We need to start working together to improve us — the human race. We need to educate, empower and inspire our youth to know that it isn’t about where you come from, or the color of your skin. It’s about the faith and passion you have in yourself. There’s no time for riots or disrespect towards authority. Understand that every action has a reaction that can lead to a dangerous cycle. We can do better as a human race.
I think something needs to be looked at or revised when it pertains to gun control. As it stand at the moment, almost anyone can have a gun as long as you have a license and training, and the reason many people have guns is for protection and self-defence, but what does it really mean to defend yourself or family by means of a weapon created purely for destruction? I think the lines are blurred when it comes to self-defence and everything else in the eyes of the law. Why aren’t we looking at who has the guns? If you aren’t competent enough, or haven’t been trained to deal with people like police officers have, why should you be allowed to carry a weapon which has the power to kill another human being? And if one can shoot dead an unarmed person “for self-defence” is that really okay? With laws like the Stand Your Ground Law, its very easy to shoot someone and claim self-defence and whether that is true or not is up to the evidence. I think this entire situation and all its details is something to keep in mind always, because a lot of problems have been brought up, and they are all relevant.
Moving forward, I think I will be more aware of my judgments of the folks I come in contact with. Mostly because I do not want to perpetuate the idea that it is okay to base one’s interactions with a person on the way they identify as far as race, class, religion, sexual orientation and other classifications go. I want to continue the conversations that have bloomed from this case (and the many of the other cases of Black boys and other people of color being killed without justice being served) with friends, family, and colleagues. These conversations are important ones to have, and even better when they help us grow and take action.
When I was a student at UC Davis, I held discussions about identity on at least a once a month basis and I want to use those kills to hold similar conversations in my current community. The goal will be to raise people’s awareness about the implications race and other identities have on the lived experience of folks across the nation, and in the world.
I also want to begin thinking about the way I will raise my future children in a country where citizens claim we’re living in a post-racial society while at the same time I have friends experience racial profiling by police on an at least monthly basis. And where a Cheerios commercial featuring a biracial couple causes an uproar on the interwebs.
Michael Angelo Lozano
Ever since Zimmerman’s release, I’ve noticed the very noticeable outrage of all my fellow activist friends. Everyone seemed angry. That is, everyone, except me.
Why? Is it because I’m apathetic to the struggle against racism and to the collective crimes of prejudice we all commit; that in extreme cases, inevitably end up in the killing of an innocent person? No, actually, it’s because I don’t prejudge people; I also don’t prejudge court cases. That’s right, I don’t judge a court case based on its victims’ skin or or the suspect’s last name. Court cases, by nature, are nasty: They’re convoluted, complex, determined by very nuanced details that I (or any liberal or conservative media) can never fairly summarize in a watered down news segment.
I think sometimes the media can make us think we’re on the jury. But perhaps tensions can be assuaged if the media didn’t think it was a good judge.
That being said, racism does exist. It exists at the level of institutions and also in individual minds. But the problem is, it’s very difficult to truthfully point out, as none of us are mind readers.