Dear SuHaeng Ja,
I am completely heartbroken by the "not guilty" verdict in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin trial. But, I'm not just feeling sadness—I'm feeling rage and helplessness and even hate for the people who are celebrating the verdict. How can I deal with this whirlwind of emotions?
Outraged by Injustice
Dear Outraged by Injustice,
I feel your pain! This pain is the source of your sadness, rage and helplessness. Though you didn’t say it, I would guess you feel a little confusion, too. You are not alone. As seen in the protests around the country and heated conversations online, many people see the outcome as outrageous. Like you, many people see this as injustice.
Frankly, our justice system sometimes seems unjust. It seems like innocent people get hurt or incarcerated while guilty people go free. But this is not new. What’s new is that you feel a personal connection to this case. Thanks to non-stop media coverage and intensified social media discussions, Trayvon Martin has become a symbol of the countless mistreatments and injustice many African Americans still experience. Even 50 years after the great March on Washington.
At this time in our shared history, we are challenging a deadly fear-based assumption. This case highlights the ironic situation of how dangerous it is to be a young Black man because young Black men are assumed to be so dangerous. Previously, the conversation about this issue was contained within the African American community. Now that it is out in the open, much pain, sadness and rage will also be out in the open. We are all connected, and more aware of our connection in the age of social media. So, you don’t have to be a young Black man to feel the pain of this young man’s tragedy.
So, I recommend you find a way to productively channel your feelings. There are a lot of feelings to sort out here. You may have a sense that this young man’s death was meaningless, that his life was less valued because of his race. But, his life and death are now taking on much deeper meaning, regardless of the jury’s decision.
Have you thought about how you feel toward George Zimmerman? Though the outcome seemed to favor him, he too has become swept up in the tides of history and media. Can you consider forgiving him? Forgiveness, does not mean that you condone someone’s actions, it is an acknowledgement of pain and a decision to release it. Will you hold on to the pain or let it become something else?
For the next few days, whenever you think of this case, or see it on the news or in social media, stop. Take a deep breath. And while you slowly exhale, imagine energy flowing from your heart to Trayvon Martin’s family, to the town of Sanford and even to George Zimmerman. Remember, we are all connected and you can choose whether or not that connection is one of pain.
Photo originally published at MinnesotaPublicRadio.org, in a photo slide show of protests
What in the world is a SuHaeng Ja?
SuHaeng Ja: soo-hang jah
(n.) One who practices SuHaeng
(v.) 1. Performing an action with sincerity and intention to grow.
(n.) 2. Any practice, such as walking, observing, meditating or exercising, done with commitment and consistency.