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Trayvon/Zimmerman murder trial results. What now… Where do we go from here? – Words to Live by

Lonnie McCowan

By Pastor Lonnie G. McCowan

I write this in response to the anger, hurt and disenchantment regarding the Trayvon/Zimmerman murder trial results. The heart wants to heal. It is our brain that gets in the way.

When you have a society that at its founding is hatred and degradation of a people, when that society inscribes that degradation in its most hallowed document, and continues to inscribe hatred in its laws and policies, it is foolish to believe that its citizens will do anything different.

Trayvon Martin is not a miscarriage of American justice, but of American itself. This is not our system malfunctioning. It is our system working as intended. To expect our juries, our schools, our police to single-handedly correct this is laughable.  People find themselves in limbo between our present Criminal Justice system, and a sense of moral ethics and equity…Life isn’t necessarily equal, but it should at least be fair. But what happens when it seems neither? You and only you can and must decide to live your life, not merely survive it. We all know about giving ourselves permission to grieve and permission to forgive abuse and manipulation and even what some view as miscarriages of justice and inequity.

However, in many cases the first step to a more full recovery from any bad or bitter experience may be to give yourself permission to actually be mad and angry, Jesus became so angry that he used a whip to whip people out of the temple because of their misuse of it. Today you and I are his temple and some still feel its ok to abuse His temple.  Anger must be used the right way. We must transcend it and go from being bitter to being truly better. What you tolerate, you will never change and hurting people hurt people.  The conversation we need to have is about how black men, even black boys, are denied the right to be young, to be vulnerable, and to make mistakes. We need to talk about why, for example, black men are no more likely than white men to smoke marijuana but nearly four times as likely to be arrested for it – and condemned to a dead-end cycle of incarceration and unemployment. This is called racism.  Trayvon Martin was fighting more than George Zimmerman that night. He was up against prejudices as old as American history, and he never had a chance.

The larger issues embedded in the case of Martin’s killing has served as a morality tale, wrapping in it questions of racial profiling, self-defense and gun ownership. But the fact that Zimmerman was found not guilty does not mean young black men are not being racially profiled in large numbers – any more than a conviction would have meant that they are. It does not mean we need more guns – or fewer guns the real takeaway of the Zimmerman case: it is telling us clearly our country still has a big race problem and the fact that we have a black president does not mean that the race issue is over.

Here’s my point: You don’t have to be Trayvon Martin to know what happen to that young man was wrong. You don’t have to be black, or young, or a ‘troubled student’ or a pot smoker to know this was murder. And you don’t have to be the Parent of Trayvon Martin to know this was a gross miscarriage of justice. This type of injustice will continue until enough of us have had enough! and finally say, no more! and stop fighting each other and work together so nothing like this will ever happen again.

“For the rest of George Zimmerman life he will now feel what it’s like to be a black man in America. He will feel people stare at him when he enters a room, judging him for what he thinks are unfair reasons. He will lose out on getting jobs for something He feels qualified for. He will believe Himself to be an upstanding citizen and wonder why people choose to not see that. People will cross the street when they see him coming. They will call him hurtful names. It will drive him to tears some days that he will want to scream at the top of his lungs. But he will have to wake up the next day, put on a firm look and push through life.

We can all become healed healers! If we work together, always remember, we are not what happened or what happens to us. We are who and what we choose to become.  Where you are is not a period, just a comma. It’s not what we go through, but what we grow through and grow to. What now? Where do we go from here? Well for the future of our kids and country we better go forward and together with one voice say we have had enough!

Lonnie G. McCowan is pastor at The Miracle Center of Ventura, in Ventura, CA. He can be contacted through email or by visiting

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