03/22/2012 12:47 EDT | Updated 05/22/2012 05:12 EDT

Why We Want Trayvon Martin's Death to "Mean Something"

  1. Race still matters, and for the foreseeable future, race will continue to matter.
  2. It is fascinating to read through my Facebook newsfeed sometimes. Certain news stories will be perceived so differently among my friends. Some news stories are highlighted in particular communities (stories about Israel/Palestine, for instance, get a lot of exposure among my activist and Jewish friends), while other news stories are ignored by some, trumpeted by others (I first learned about Trayvon Martin's story from my African-American friends, long before anybody else picked it up).
  3. Trayvon's death at the hands of George Zimmerman touches on, at the macro level, a ton of different political issues: gun and self-defence laws in Florida, vigilantism, the perception of young black men in American (and Canadian, for that matter) society, and race relations. I think that deep down, many people want his death to "mean something," not to just be another example of senseless violence.
  4. I believe in gun control, and I believe that the notion of a "war on crime" is deeply flawed. Criminals are people who exist within a larger socio-economic context; one of marginalization, poverty, and drug and alcohol abuse (among countless other factors). We build more prisons and arm more citizens, without thinking about how we can provide social support for those in need.
  5. Skittles. Nothing is more chilling than the visual I get of this skinny kid holding not a handgun, but a bag of Skittles.
  6. George Zimmerman has already been tried in the court of public opinion. On one side, he is forever guilty, a representation of societal bias and profiling. On another side, he is a citizen standing up against criminals, doing what the law is afraid or unable to do. I am highly sceptical about his claims of self-defence, but until all the facts are in I can't say I really know what happened that night.
  7. When you call 911, and they tell you not to take the law into your own hands, listen to them.
  8. We have the capacity to gather reams of evidence independently and share that evidence online. This article in Mother Jones is an excellent example of how detailed (and compelling) the analysis can get. It makes finding an unbiased jury much more difficult for high-profile cases.
  9. We aren't cowboys or secret agents; so why are we carrying around concealed handguns?
  10. My heart goes out to Trayvon's friends and family. I can't imagine what it means to lose a teenage son. I hope that constructive change comes from this tragic incident. I really do. Many of these conversations are long overdue.