Tammy, I write this letter to you because I'm hurt, ashamed and angry. I owe you an apology for the discussion we had two weeks ago about the Trayvon Martin murder trial and what would happen to George Zimmerman.
I could not fathom the thought that in 2013 a jury of red-blooded Americans of any stripe could come to the conclusion that some sin or crime against Trayvon Martin had not been committed on that dark rainy night in Florida, resulting in his death. How could I be so wrong? I mean the whole world was watching!
I advised you to wipe your tears and calm down. Let the process run its course. The prosecution would unravel the facts and all would comprehend how gross and horrendous this tragedy was, and the Martin family and the country would be soothed some, by the execution of justice against the perpetrator of this senseless crime. I told you I hadn't watched much of the witness testimony of Rachel Jentel, but even if she wasn't fully understood on the stand, the fact that Zimmerman got out of his vehicle and stalked Trayvon until the fatal confrontation would override any ridiculous defense theory that the aggressor trailing and in active pursuit of a victim could reasonably be explained as justifiable self-defense.
Boy was I wrong, but I'm not brain dead and I'm not unreasonable.
Like so many other Americans, I thought that we had moved to a better place in this country. Medgar Evers, Emmitt Till, and lynch mobs seemed to be a fleeting memory of a time gone by. Out of step and unthinkable in today's society of "freedom and justice for all." I mean we have a black president for God's sake. Surely the worst rudiments of our past racial history had been put away in a hermetically sealed coffin to never rise again.
Surely any honest, thinking person could see that Zimmerman profiled and followed Trayvon because he was young and black. Did he have murder on his mind when he departed that vehicle? Probably not, but what was he going to do? Did they fight when he finally caught up with Trayvon? I would've fought. Could he have pulled the gun without pulling the trigger? Of course he could have! Ultimately, who was responsible for the entire altercation?
Basically an all-white jury found enough reason in their heart to believe that a young black boy on his way home armed with Skittles and tea did something to provoke his justifiable killing. You could only come to that conclusion if you were somehow predisposed to believe that there is something inherent within that group of people that is less worthy than you. To me that smacks of every tenet of racism that has ever existed in the country.
Tammy, I don't really know what to tell you or your brothers and sisters. You've got to be vigilant and watchful. Please don't let your temper get the best of you. Try to remember that you need to stay strong for the benefit of your son and daughter. I'm broken today, and I ache for you and millions of other young people like you. They are black and white, brown and yellow, and they are trying to square this jury verdict with the rhetoric they've read on the great monuments and statues sprinkled around this country. I've got to tell you what so many African-American parents have told their children for generations.
There is a God that sits high and looks down low, and we have to stretch out to God now and ask for love, understanding and peace. I suspect that Trayvon has found comfort in the bosom of God. We all need to pray that his family would be strengthened day by day.
When your tears have dried and the weakness has left your legs, I want you to get up and fight some more. We know now more than ever, "the struggle continues." We all must labor to inspire our future and attempt to correct these miscarriages of justice. The truth of this matter is known by the spirits. I leave you with words from Dr. King. "The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice."
Johnson is a former member of the House of Delegates and the father of Tammy Johnson of Huntington.