George Zimmerman’s new attorney, Hal Ulrig, went on the defensive last night as he spoke with CNN’s Pierce Morgan. Ulrig claimed that Trayvon Martin was responsible for his own death and his client had every right to defend himself.
“We are Trayvon Martin,” hoodie-clad crowds of brown and white faces have been chanting at rallies across the country. As we grieve the murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old African American who was gunned down by Neighborhood Watch captain George Zimmerman, I cannot help but reflect on how black and brown bodies are culturally and systematically policed as a result of unwarranted stereotypes and fear.
While I am heartened by how community members and high-profile figures like NAACP president Ben Jealous and Reverend Al Sharpton have mobilized to garner public attention around this injustice, organized marches and obtained almost 2 million signatures in just one week, I am troubled that a petition calling for a fair investigation for openly gay Florida A&M (FAMU) student Robert Champion, Jr. who was hazed to death could not get even 900 signatures in over two months. It is no secret that justice drags her feet when the lives of our black boys and girls are at stake. The nationwide cries of outrage, however, are even more muffled when it is a life of a black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person on the line, as if the double layers of oppression further tints our lens for fairness and urgency.
You know about the complaint many African Americans have about gay men and lesbians equating — in any way — their shared struggle for equal rights with the civil rights movement. Well, going hand-in-hand with that is an annoyance with the seeming one-way nature of the gay appropriation. In other words, the gays want everyone to understand their plight, but they do nothing to lend their voice and support when the blacks could use it.
That changed with the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.
On Monday, 23 groups representing the varied concerns of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people issued an open letter in support of Trayvon’s family and their quest for justice.