After the Verdict: “Where do we go From Here?” Black Studies For Everybody

Black Studies protest, May 1968 University of Washington.  Image by Steve Ludwig. Courtesy of Antiwar and Radical History Project.

Black Studies protest, May 1968 University of Washington. Image by Steve Ludwig. Courtesy of Antiwar and Radical History Project.

Some people can’t understand why people concerned about racism—especially African Americans–are so upset about the George Zimmerman verdict.  Some folks think that there is no evidence to suggest that Zimmerman’s even a racist since he is Latino.  These misunderstandings reveal there remains an empathy gap when it comes to White understanding of Black experiences.

George Zimmerman is a White, second-generation Hispanic who felt empowered to racially profile Trayvon Martin.  His light skin, accent-free English and fear of Black men inspired something in the millions of white Americans who reached out to support him during the trial. His acquittal stunned us because it highlights how some people of color embrace anti-black racism.  Zimmerman’s privilege allowed him to disavow the idea that race was involved in the shooting at all.

There’s hope though. So much of Black culture is American culture. We all love to quote Martin Luther King Jr, listen to the Godfather of Soul, and watch Cosby Show reruns.  We see each other at work and in restaurants, but remain a highly segregated society. We befriend and date each other, but issues arise because of a lack of knowledge and empathy for the experiences people of color continue to live in this country. Black studies helps to close the empathy gap by revealing the consequences of racial discrimination and how Black history is world history.  You can be part of the solution by picking up a book, checking out some of these free Black studies courses on YouTube and subscribing to our blog.  If your child is school aged, get them reading about Black history and culture daily–not just in February.

By making Black studies for everybody, we can create the open dialogue, patience and expansive knowledge necessary to fully address racism.

by Shannon Shird

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1 Comment

  1. Julia B

     /  September 19, 2013

    Great post, Shannon! It was frustrating seeing friends post about the verdict on Facebook. So many of the comments reeked of ignorance and lack of willingness to try and understand the side they argued against. The resources you’ve provided are helpful, hopefully even the most stubborn people will eventually make an effort to change.

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