As a nation, we’re facing one of those rare moments when a “civilized people”, should be able to have an open, honest dialogue about discrimination in this country and actually achieve some progress. The very human, founding fathers of America created a utopian dream, during a nightmare for many and a dream that has yet to be fulfilled. Benjamin Franklin wrote in the Constitution, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The trial of George Zimmerman, who was found not guilty after willfully denying a request not to approach or follow the young 17, unarmed Trayvon Martin who, while innocently walking back from a store he was chased down by an overzealous, bi-racial (Latino-Caucasian), with something to prove.Trayvon, a minor, found himself fighting to defend his life from the gun-toting, George Zimmerman. The verdict has caused a nation to divide; among those seeing a constant disadvantage in the justice system and those holding on to long standing bigotries. While I’ve watched, family, friends, co-workers argue and rally for their causes, one question haunts me; what if Trayvon Martin had been a gay black male or a transgender person of color?
A jury in Sanford, Florida, found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter after a three-week trial in which defense lawyers argued that Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot Martin in self-defense. According to the Chicago Tribune, U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder on Monday, called the shooting death of Trayvon Martin “unnecessary,” raising questions about whether he believed George Zimmerman, acted in self-defense when he shot the unarmed teenager. Most American’s, especially the African-American community, which I’m included, also have questioned that Zimmerman actually acted in self-defense. Usually in the case of self-defense someone has been attacked and attempted to defend themselves. Zimmerman was the one to follow Martin, after 911 dispatchers requested him not. Zimmerman was the one who chose to follow and attack Martin, yet Zimmerman was found not guilty, winning, based on self defense. He was judged by a jury that did not represent the taxpaying base of Seminole County, Florida. According to the 2010 census, African-American’s represented 12% of the population, yet was not represented on the jury. As the verdict was read, the smug Zimmerman looked unsurprised, sure of his self and those that would rally behind him. The white America plagued with bigotry he so yearned to belong too, the white America chosen to be his judge.Ironically this weekend, I was witness to a discussion between transgender persons; one stated more support from the T community for LGB causes, the other stating we have waited too long for them to “get to our issues,” a divide in belief within an oppressed group, which questions the support of a larger oppressed group. I have been a witness in my life to gay America telling the Transgender community in so many words; “we will get to your issues soon," and the racism within the TBGL community. For years, as a trans-woman of color, I watched as African-American civil rights leaders argued whether or not TBGL issues are equal to their's, as a civil rights issue for TBGL's “pursuit of happiness,” another example of an oppressed group which questions the support from a larger oppressed group. While I support Martin, his family and the America that questions where is the justice for Trayvon Martin, I can’t help but wonder where is the outcry of justice for CeCe McDonald, a trans-woman of color serving a 41 month sentence for the crime of defending herself against a white supremacist? Where is the outcry of justice for Coko Williams, Sage Smith, Paige Clay, Deoni Jones, Ce-ce Acoff and many more, all African-American as well, but Trans; all attacked for just living their life in a country with the “pursuit of happiness” in its foundation? Why haven’t their cause and murder been embraced by America and especially African-American Cis-gender society? While the case of Trayvon Martin angered black America, black America was also expressing their outrage and trans-phobic bigotry towards Amiyah Scott, for being pictured with Chad Johnson, as detailed in “What Chad Johnson and Amiyah Scott can teach us about respecting Transgender Women; a call for black America to cease the intolerance, ignorance and disrespect that is shown towards “their”, Trans-women of color. I proudly say their, because black America has some outspoken trans-women of color fighting for them; like Monica Roberts, who is speaking at rallies in support of Trayvon, Cheryl Courtney-Evans, myself and a list of trans-women of color living among you, fighting with black America, but where is your fight for us, for those of us brutally murdered daily? Sadly, and it gives me no pleasure in saying this but it makes me wonder; would America and Black America give a damn about Trayvon Martin if he had been one of us? If he had been a black gay male switching his way home or if he had been a transgender woman of color, trying to resist being a statistic, in the sex industry trade due to white Hetero-Cis-gender laws, by just walking her way back home from taking college courses?
As I sit in this hypocritical country we call a free nation, a melting pot and land where “all men are created equal,” I hope the lasting legacy of young Trayvon Martin will be as a wakeup call to all the older generations and those yet to come of different races, religions, gender, sexual-orientation and class; to start a discussion and ask ourselves, are we living up to the dream of what this nation can be? If you are fighting for equality; they are fighting for equality; those over there are fighting for equality, aren’t we all then fighting for equality? A fight for the dream of what America can be? There is no freedom for none, until there is freedom for everyone. Your struggle, African-Latino-Asian America are the same struggles of your African-Latino-Asian TBGL community; LGB people your struggle is my struggle as a Transgender person and mine yours. We are all fighting the same fight, “human rights”, but not together and until then, we will never wake up from the nightmare and realize the dream of this nation; that all men are created equal.
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