Trayvon’s Spirit Lives On!

Did the outrage over the Zimmerman verdict force a REAL discussion of justice in America?

Dr. Scott Washington | 8/20/2013, 10:29 p.m.
Growing up as a child, my mother would routinely instruct me that, when angry, recalcitrant, or vengeful, I should wait ...

The Zimmerman Case

Growing up as a child, my mother would routinely instruct me that, when angry, recalcitrant, or vengeful, I should wait a significant period before responding. Most poignant was her instruction to NEVER react. My mother’s wisdom seemed at the time to be nurturing and motherly. Her point always being that one should respond coherently and incisively and this can only occur when one is calm, cool and collected. I now feel calm, cool and collected and will respond to the injustice that occurred in Sanford, Florida, some month or so ago. More broadly, however, my response will engage a discussion of REAL justice in America.

The Zimmerman verdict is consistent with a long list of criminal cases tried in American courts that’s outcome is embarrassment in the global context of human and societal evolution. Notwithstanding trials involving Blacks during the de jure segregation and oppression period of American history, cases such as California v. Powell (Rodney King beating), O.J. Simpson, and Casey Anthony, respectively, are examples of these points of embarrassment. Zimmerman, Powell, Simpson, and Anthony are simply the excrement of an American criminal justice system that was founded on racism, segregation and oppression. For my colleagues, even those liberal African American male lawyers and commentators on CNN’s Headline news who were all too comfortable with the notion that the Zimmerman case was “not about race,” have failed in their duties and obligations to, not only American media, but their audiences as well. Ever since the “Race Card” days of the O.J. Simpson case, a discussion of race, racism and crime in American justice is taboo, and even our most educated and skilled lawyers and judges have institutional paranoia when these elements are present in a case. Taboo-ism in American Justice is unacceptable.

Shortly following the brutal slaying of this unarmed 17 year-old young man, I updated my Facebook pic with a glossy photo of Trayvon Martin. I pledged to keep that pic on my page until justice was served in this horrible case. The pic remained on my page following the injustice that occurred in Sanford, Florida. I remained resolute that Trayvon would remain on my page for the indefinite future. The end of Trayvon Martin’s life will stand for the moment in American history when REAL discussions on race, racism, crime and justice might finally be had.


In early August, 2013, United States Attorney General Eric Holder made monumental in-roads towards REAL justice reform announcing a major overhaul of the American criminal justice system, particularly as it relates to federal sentencing guidelines.

Attorney General Holder called for “sweeping, systemic changes to the American judicial system on Monday, urging a frank and constructive dialogue about the need to reform a broken system.” Holder’s comments directly relate to the tough-on-crime mentality of the past 35 years that has existed in the hearts and minds of lawmakers, government executives, and the courts. This mentality, codified in the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 (ADAA) and its progeny, is directly responsible for the more than 800% increase in human beings incarcerated in American prisons. This legislation has been devastating on communities, as well, and has led to the development of an extremely violent and brutal prison culture in numerous communities in America.