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Things I'm Thinking 07/17/13

Lawrence Murray |
July 17, 2013 | 5:41 p.m. PDT

Guest Contributor

Editor's Note: "Things I'm Thinking 07/17/13" is part of Calum Hayes' summer opinion series, Things I'm Thinking.

The not guilty verdict in the Zimmerman trial was not a surprise. (Orange County Jail, Wikimedia Commons)
The not guilty verdict in the Zimmerman trial was not a surprise. (Orange County Jail, Wikimedia Commons)
1. I’m thinking that a lot of points are being missed with the reactions to the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin “not guilty” verdict. Honestly, it’s not all that surprising that Zimmerman was able to walk free. Florida law is screwed up, and has been for a while. This is the same state that gave us Casey Anthony, hanging chads and the Stand Your Ground law that more or less allowed Zimmerman to not be arrested for another six weeks (and yet locked up Marissa Alexander). Logically, it is what it is. A prosecutor wasn’t able to present a strong enough case. Zimmerman is free, but he’s not really free (even if he gets his gun back, his quality of life will never be the same). A guilty verdict would have just sent a hollow message that made that clearer. Nobody was going to “win” anything here.

But this is not an “O.J. repeat,” an irresponsible reaction from folks trying to parallel race into the verdict. This is not about rehashing past debates about why we have a legal system (as opposed to a justice system). This is not simply about one young man’s death and another man’s trial. This isn’t about your right to bear arms. This is about a nation understanding the circumstances of young people of color in America. Back in 1990, Ice Cube released AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, his first solo album after leaving N.W.A. There is a track called “Endangered Species (Tales from the Darkside)”, featuring Chuck D of Public Enemy. The track itself is awesome, because it bought a West Coast gangsta rap legend (Cube) together with an East Coast political rap legend (Chuck), and because the tone of the track is set immediately by a mock sample of a news report talking about young black teenagers as an endangered species. Only, in this case, no one is out to protect these youth.

Two decades later, it is still a chilling experience to listen to that track, see what’s going on in Chicago and feel the emotions of protesters all over the country try to make sense of how an unarmed teenager can be profiled and shot to death by a vigilante who will walk free. The track still resonates with me, a relatively young black man from Philadelphia who occasionally wears a hoodie. I know what it’s like to be stereotyped and profiled, but I’ve never had a mortal conflict related to it, and that’s what’s scary about this country. Take a look at some Web 2.0 comment sections; there are a lot of people who sympathize with a man’s right to shoot a teen, convincing themselves that the circumstances that led to the conflict are less important. “So what if there’s no justice for Trayvon Martin? Kids die every day anyway...” Or so the attitude goes.

One day, I’ll have to address future children (mine and those of my brothers) about Trayvon Martin’s death, George Zimmerman’s trial and American society. People fear what they do not understand, and I hope that we as a country progress with the reality that severe inequalities still exist in the world in which many of our youth of color are brought up. This case is a great example of the inconsistencies in the state of Florida and, by extension, in our country. We can focus on what happens in the courtroom, but we had better build and strengthen our communities and value the young lives in it, regardless of race or class.

2. l’m thinking that Cory Monteith’s death is going to be a major storyline for "Glee" in the fall. "Glee" was already headed for an interesting season, considering cast changes and the fact that the show was re-upped for two more seasons, despite a two-year decline in ratings. Monteith, a regular since the show debuted in 2009, passed away at the age of 31 due to a deadly mix of alcohol and heroin, not long after leaving rehab. His character, Finn Hudson, was a mainstay on the show as a high school quarterback-turned-singer, and his character also dated his off-screen girlfriend, Lea Michele. For a show that has demonstrated a relative pulse on what’s going on in the world, I wonder how it will address Monteith’s/Finn’s succumbing to his demons. It is a delicate issue that could define the future of the show.

3. I’m thinking that Starbucks can’t catch a break when it comes to partners/employees doing something stupid. A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a group of deaf patrons who gathered at a Starbucks in New York and were allegedly laughed at and had the cops called on them. This comes less than two years after a woman was called out on her name on her cup in New York. And who could forget the Starbucks rant song (mercifully, not from New York)? I worked at a downtown Starbucks during a particularly unhappy time of my life, so I realize that working there isn’t exactly a trip to Disneyland. (Unless, of course, you actually work at Disneyland.) But damn. Schultz’ hologram is going to have to make an appearance on an awareness training video or something.

4. I’m thinking that NBA free agency is like the month of March: it comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb. When this month started, folks (except maybe Calum) were getting all excited about where Dwight Howard was going (and almost completely missing the irony of Chris Paul chilling with L.A.’s most stable NBA franchise over the past nine months). What’s there to watch for now, besides random Summer League box scores (13-of-54 from the field, Trey Burke? Really?), where 2007 1st overall pick Greg Oden will end up (go to Miami, Greg, they just cleared Mike Miller’s salary for you), and whether or not Nate Robinson gets taken care of (Monta Ellis sweating just to get his next deal with Dallas doesn’t bode well for Lil Him at all). In the midst of it all, I’ll continue to hone my blacktop game this summer, complete with teaching strangers how to play defense and racking up dimes without telling anyone what my name is.

5. I’m thinking that with NFL training camps starting soon, I have to split up the 32 starting quarterbacks that I trust and don’t trust right now. I’ll be predicting the entire NFL schedule in August (all 256 games, then the playoffs), and that means I’ll have to go through 32 depth charts, schemes, and backgrounds. But the easiest way to define teams for some folks are the QBs, so check it out:

Trust: Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Brady, Brees, Flacco, Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Ryan, Kaepernick, Wilson, Griffin, Luck, Schaub, Cutler, Smith, Tannehill.

Don’t Trust: Romo, Stafford, Newton, Dalton, Palmer, Bradford, Rivers, Ponder, Vick, Freeman, Weeden, Locker, Flynn, Gabbert, Kolb, Sanchez.

Of course, this list is subject to change. Some of these guys (RE: Mark Sanchez) aren’t locks to even be on the roster come September. But I figure with the dog days of summer boiling on through MLB All-Star Week, some debate about the QB hierarchy will stir things up for the football season.


Reach Guest Contributor Lawrence Murray here; follow him here.



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