The recent Zimmerman verdict has led to righteous rage across America. In cities across the nation including Oakland and Los Angeles, Black sisters and brothers have taken to the streets to reclaim their voice. Black students throughout the state of California have responded to the Zimmerman trial by both questioning how America values Black life and by taking direct action to empower ourselves and our community. This comes at a pivotal moment in American his(her)tory where Black people have realized that in order to truly liberate ourselves from the shackles of racism and white supremacy we must not depend upon hope inspired by talented oratory and misleading rhetoric but by seizing the reins of our own destiny.
The Afrikan/Black Coalition (ABC), a coalition of Black students throughout the University of California system, recognizes that the not guilty verdict of the George Zimmerman trial is once again another manifestation of America’s racist justice system that terrorizes the Black community. This (in)justice system is plagued with militarization, unlawful surveillance, vigilante justice, and feeds into the Prison-Industrial Complex. Black people in America are constantly at risk of falling victim to the violence that this country’s institutions perpetuate. This can be seen from the Stop and Frisk tactics of the New York Police Department to the inhumane prison system of California and the rest of America where currently 30,000 inmates are participating in the largest hunger strike in American his(her)tory.
‘Stand-Your-Ground Laws’, which are practiced in over 30 states, including California, were created to protect a privileged class and to perpetuate a system of white supremacy. Thus, it is important to understand that every system is exquisitely designed to produce the results it gets. To change the results you have to change the system.
Thus, it is crucial to comprehend that this legal system is connected with other racist institutions and projects that operate as mechanisms of social, political, and economic control over the black community within the US. This verdict comes in light of the appointment of Janet Napolitano, an expert military defense strategist and former Secretary of Homeland Security, as president of the UC System. It comes in light of an unsatisfactory judgement around Affirmative Action, reinforcing Proposition 209, a law that negatively affected thousands of otherwise qualified (black, brown and indigenous ‘American’) students who have been systematically denied the opportunity to attend a UC. It comes in light of the US Congress taking away welfare benefits from members of our community. The Black community exists in a constant state of crisis. Black America is constantly facing injustice. We should not need headline stories to agitate us to action. They should simply be fuel to the fire.
We cannot afford to wait for another Trayvon Martin story. We must strategize, organize, and mobilize in order to bring tangible solutions to our community and to change the condition of our people. We must have a concrete agenda that addresses how we plan to deconstruct and dismantle America’s racist institutions. We must feed ourselves, employ ourselves, heal ourselves, and most importantly protect ourselves, because we cannot afford to leave the fate of our community up to those who currently hold power in America.
As Black students we understand that we must develop innovative solutions to complicated problems. We must constantly organize and be more persistent than the struggles that oppress us. Our place will always be at the forefront of movements and the forefront of progress. Thus, our collective goal is to demonstrate our distrust and disgust of the American legal/judicial system and to continue to advocate for real restorative justice.