Monday, July 22


The murder of Trayvon Martin in February of 2012 became a test for the American Justice System--a question from the African American community, minority communities, and justice-oriented people, to America. The July 13th not-guilty verdict was the answer we received, saturated with our worst fears.

If you have not signed the
NAACP's petition to pursue an investigation into what happened in Florida, please sign it here. Those of us who have already signed received an email from the organization's President & CEO, Ben Jealous, that the Sanford, Florida, Department of Justice is now asking for public comments.

Please voice your thoughts and direct your plea for justice by emailing:
SUBJECT: The George Zimmerman Case

It is important for us to not only continue our private and social-media discussions to understand how racism still exists and can be mitigated in our country moving forward, but to do our parts as informed citizens today. Please consider sending the email, as well as keeping policy issues in mind the next time you can vote (locally and at the federal level). Share the email address with family and friends please.

Below is the letter I emailed the DOJ.


Dear Sanford Department of Justice,

My extended family and I have been looking forward to a Florida destination-reunion for some years now, fully having agreed this past Fourth of July weekend in Chicago that renting a Florida beachfront property for a week would be wonderful next summer. My family, scattered throughout the country, has also been monitoring the aftermath of Trayvon Martin's death. You see, my younger brother looked a lot like Trayvon growing up. I remember coming home from college some summers and taking him shopping--including buying hoodies he liked (appropriate for South Dakota weather as well). And our family being Muslim, each of us know what it's like to wonder how nervous fellow passengers will be every time we board a plane. Although we never discuss our personal strategies to put fellow passengers at ease, we all quietly have them. We all know we are seen with suspicion in our own country, by our fellow citizens.

I personally watched every day of the Zimmerman trial--live when I could or replayed at night online. But I watched every minute that was broadcast. I first learned in middle school about the concept of a jury of peers determining the verdict of guilty or not guilty, and I appreciate most of our legal framework. This nation is one of rights--and that should be a source of relief to everyone, not just minorities. Yet I had to wonder, upon seeing the verdict pronounced on Saturday, if someone felt threatened by my presence in your state, if my character would be put on trial postmortem despite the person who admittedly pulled the trigger having been named the defendant.

Somehow, the laws of your state have allowed a jury of George Zimmerman's peers to indict Trayvon Martin for his own murder.

The world we live in comes with its own risks, but there is no way I, my family nor friends will be able to visit states like yours that, perhaps, would rather keep us out anyway. That is what your Stand Your Ground policies reflect--a warning to those the Zimmerman jury would find culpable, "justifiably worth suspicion." The only laws I've ever studied in public schools and the University of Minnesota were American laws, yet your laws uphold that a person like me is guilty until proven innocent if I happen to be murdered due to my murderer's own paranoia (if not racism). The term, "racial profiling," was banned in the courtroom by a judge who believed race was irrelevant to Zimmerman's profiling before the jury was allowed to enter. The trial relied on the ignorance of a jury of George Zimmerman's peers, people who would statistically find it more comfortable for themselves to sympathize with the defendant's fear of The Other, instead of a dead child. Lack of diversity education is how the verdict was reached, but we are hailing the process as American Justice.

Please lead other Stand Your Ground states to update your laws in order to reflect the diversity of this nation--"racial" as well as sociological. Justice should be equal protection under the law, including for Trayvon; including for my younger brother; including for me. You have a beautiful state, from what we've heard. It would be nice to feel safe enough for folks like us to visit.


Samira Choudhury


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