Ald. Johnson, Carrboro Brings Love To Trayvon Martin Verdict

By Lauren Grady Posted July 22, 2013 at 6:30 pm

CARRBORO – The verdict of the Trayvon Martin case has yielded many different reactions among us.

Board member for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Annetta Streater, has a son close to Martin’s age. She said seeing the verdict unfolding and having to talk to her son was emotional.

“Despite this challenge and verdict, we still want our young men to be self confident and now that they have a place in this world,” said Streater. “We still want them to feel empowered, to do the right thing, and make their mark.”

Carrboro Alderman, social worker, and yoga teacher, Michelle Johnson, said after the verdict, she felt deep emotions of despair and hopelessness. Therefore, she said she felt moved to gather people together to process Trayvon Martin’s death.

On Saturday, Johnson held a Trayvon Martin rally, much like people did nationwide on the one-week anniversary of the case’s verdict. Locally, the rally was entitled, “What Would A World Full of Love Look Like?” and was held in Carrboro Town Hall.

The event invited anyone interested in voicing their opinions regarding the verdict in the case pertaining to the death of Trayvon Martin, all directed towards erasing situations in which George Zimmerman has been accused of wrongfully killing the teenage boy. While conversations have been ongoing outside the courtroom about Zimmerman’s motive in the killing, he was acquitted of all charges in the boy’s death.

Carrboro’s rally focused on infusing communities with love and safety.

Among the featured guests were the Raging Grannies and the Sacrificial Poets.

The event began with a meditative moment of arrival, progressing into a Sacrificial Poets performance featuring Maliyah Tan, Will McInerney, and CJ Suitt. Each member performed a poem regarding racism and their connection to the barrier against races in communities.

Youth Outreach Coordinator of Sacrificial Poets, Suitt, said his piece really embodied how he feels in society.

“I think for me that poem speaks to what I experience, what other men of color experience in the world every day, which is not being seen, not feeling normal, whatever normal means, not feeling accepted, not feeling like there’s a pathway or way they can be in the world that is acceptable, in anything that they do,” said Suitt.

The group broke into three caucus groups – people of color, white people, and unaffiliated. Trainers with Dismantling Racism Works guided the caucus groups.

Molly De Marco helped coordinate the event and assisted the white caucus group.

“People were really able to share their feelings and process some of this,” said De Marco. “It was somewhat hopeful, I think, and uplifting that so many people were willing to come out on a Saturday afternoon. It also shows the depth of our feeling and grief around what’s happening.”

Within the white caucus, participants spent time talking to one another, and determining how to create a world “without Zimmermans”, and said they located in their bodies where they felt emotion.

The caucus groups came together and freely expressed on a piece of white paper what a world full of love would look like. Responses revolved around equality, fairness, and sensitivity.

Executive Director of Sacrificial Poets, Will McInerney, contributed to the artwork.

“I really appreciate the way that the facilitators guided us through the process and helped us create not just important conversation, which sometimes is really necessary but often intangible, but also made space for a tangible representation visually, artistically, through words, through whatever medium you care to express,” said McInerney.

After, the Raging Grannies performed a song based on “We Shall Overcome” about Trayvon Martin and society.

Ruth Zalph, a Raging Grannie, said she feels strongly about racism embedded in American culture.

“This whole problem of racism in America is so long standing,” said Zalph. “It has been here forever, as long as our nation has been here. If we want to make any changes, the best way to do it is through educating people.”

“I think there was an awareness that this wasn’t the first time this happened and it probably won’t be the last time that something like this happens, where a teenage boy of color is harmed or killed just for seeming like they were threatening someone,” said Johnson. “Some of that has to do with perception.”

If you would like to know more about Dismantling Racism Works and where to continue a discussion like this, click here.

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