I already saw the news reports flashing in on my news feed through my phone, but I knew there
was only one person I could trust for the latest news, from the shenanigans in the Middle East
to what Bey and Blue Ivy did yesterday: my sister's Facebook status. My sister is one of the
most intelligent people I know. It seems she says things that the media outlets can't, or more
importantly, refuse to say. She is not a journalist, but when I need the news, I read the New
York Times. When I need the truth, I check my sister's Facebook. So on July 13, 2013 when all I
saw was "I knew it," three simple words appearing beside her profile photo, my heart stopped."
There I was, walking in Midtown to a friend's birthday dinner, muttering to myself like a
shaman performing a séance: "They gotta get it right this time, they gotta it right this time."
America messed up with Sean Bell and Oscar Grant and Amadou Diallo and Chicago's
Southside and so many more, but I didn't care. Yeah, I saw and read what BBC and CNN
and pretty much everyone else online was saying, but screw them, because they weren't my
sister's Facebook status. And I knew it would give me the news I needed to see. The news
America desperately needed. Then I read it.
No grand, lengthy, witty or eloquent sentence, like she usually does. Just those three words. A
metaphorical shrug, distancing herself away from the pain and hate behind that verdict. From all
the conversations we had, I know she put up a front as if this trial was a hopeless endeavor, like
this trial was just an empty exercise of which she already knew the outcome. But inside, I knew
there was a tiny glimmer of hope in her as was within all people who had some sense of right and
wrong, justice versus injustice. But ultimately, this was a verdict preordained by the American
justice system, contrary to the protests and prayers.
And then slowly, from apathy and disappointment, came a white hot anger bubbling inside me.
I was fuming on the sidewalk, still moving but not knowing where to. All the while, another
phrase repeated in my head: A man killed a boy and walked. No punishment. No slap on the
wrist. The jury basically said, "Hey, Georgie, you did nothing wrong. That black boy with the
lethal Skittles and iced tea and his pummeling fists are all good reason for killing- we mean,
defending yourself." It doesn't matter that he followed a boy when he was told not to. Or that he apparently
confronted and then shot this boy. None of this mattered anymore, as I floated aimlessly through
But why should I be surprised or disappointed or angry? How did a system like this fail
Trayvon? I mean, "a system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect." This game
was rigged from the beginning. Mawuena, you silly boy. You should have known. And
part of me, shamefully, wants to scream at Trayvon like Uncle Ruckus. "Nigga, you should have known better! You don't just go
walking out in this nice-ass neighborhood with your hood up! What were you thinking? When
Georgie approached you, you shoulda kept your head down and just replied 'No suh, yes suh'.
You shoulda shuffled back away from him with your hands behind your back. Now look what
Wandering in a haze, it's a wonder I reached the party. As I looked in from the outside, I saw
my friends laughing inside. I looked at such a happy scene in contrast to this tragic one that had
just passed. I could feel myself sinking into a particular sort of despair. One that you know many
other people are feeling, even when you are confronted by elated people completely oblivious to
a recent calamity. And I couldn't help but think of what happens when this becomes "old news,"
Not because of how much time has passed, but of when another innocent black boy is killed by
another vigilante, another cop, another black boy, etc.
But before I could enter that bar and deafen my senses and emotions with loud music, loud girls
and even louder booze, I couldn't help but think of what Obama had said over a year ago.
That if he had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon Martin. I guess he could have been my
brother. Or your friend. Or another student. Or a lost child. He has become a martyr, a symbol,
almost a deity to some. I don't know what he is to me. He is everything and nothing. A person
I do not know but feel for and one America has seen so many times but ignored as he tumbled
away. Who knows, maybe in the near future, someone else may check their sister's Facebook
status, smile and say, "I knew it," with America and Trayvon seeing change for the better. Maybe.
Follow Mawuena Akyea on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MawuenaAkyea