Are We On A Backward Slippery Slope?

It has been a few hours since the verdict was read in the George Zimmerman trial.  I wanted to wait a while before writing anything so that I could try to put it into perspective and place it into context.  This trial captured the attention of the nation, not only because of the death of a black 17 year old unarmed boy at the hands of an armed adult on a dark rainy night, but because it has become a microcosm of so much of what is going on around us throughout the nation.  I cannot help but ask whether America is on the slippery slope leading back to the same ills we confronted in the last century.

Photo from the 2004 March for Women's Lives, t...
Photo from the 2004 March for Women’s Lives, taken by me (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While racism rarely entered the conversation  regarding the trial , anyone who believes that it wasn’t a factor in this redneck town in central Florida is simply naive.  This is a white, Republican conservative town, and its behavior, values and culture reflect everything that description implies.  But the culture of Sanford, Florida is the same as that of cities and towns around the country.  While we may not see it play itself out as boldly on the national level, on the local and state level much of what was achieved in the areas of civil rights, abortion rights and voter rights is being chipped away.  The events in Texas this past week are a clear illustration of what is happening.  Texas is now one of 7 states with such restrictive abortion laws, with more on the way.  What chance do you think Trayvon Martin would have had in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, or any other red state?   No better than in Florida right?

Then are we saying that we are again living in a time when true justice is determined by geography?    But it isn’t only justice. Its voting rights, abortion rights,  and gay rights that depend on where we live.  And it isn’t only laws that differentiate us, its standards of living and education and health care.  We look at the red/blue map and see a political divide.  But it is much more than that.  It is a legal, cultural and attitudinal divide that is getting wider and starker and more divisive.

The only arms we have in this war for the hearts and minds of America are our words, our votes and our conviction that we cannot slide back into yesterday.  Unarmed, black Trayvon Martin’s death at the hands of an armed white man must be a catalyst for action to assure that our grandchildren are not fighting these same battles.

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