While Rolling Stone is catching all kinds of flack for plastering a very rock star esque image of Boston bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaey on the cover of their August issue, Time is taking a different, more tasteful and in our opinion more productive approach to selling magazines. Their August issue features an image of an transparent hoodie that speaks volumes. Withe the bold words “After Trayvon” spread across the cover, it’s quite clear that this issue will cover: racial profiling, Stand Your Ground laws, the George Zimmerman verdict, and race relations in this ever-changing country.
Time’s August issue doesn’t just examine the surface of this complex issue. Essence’s senior writer Jeannine Amber discusses how the lives of black parents changed after the “not guilty” verdict came down, in the same ways New Orleans’ residents lives changed after the levees broke or the ways New Yorkers’ lives changed after September 11th. Amber describes how black parents have been having “The Talk” with out sons for decades, centuries even; but after that verdict, many wondered how to re-stratergize:
These warnings weren’t always heeded, and sometimes they weren’t enough. But they allowed parents to feel that we gave our children a measure of protection against a threat we could identify. When confronted by violent gangs or overzealous law enforcement, we knew these rules of engagement might help keep our sons safe. But in George Zimmerman we saw a new danger, one that seemed utterly lawless.
We may never know exactly what happened the night Zimmerman shot Trayvon, but black parents know this: A neighborhood-watch man saw a brown-skinned teenager–a boy who could have been one of ours–wearing a hoodie pulled up against the rain and assumed he was up to no good. That suspicion set into motion a chain of events that left the boy dead. How do we protect against that? Do we tell our children to run if they are being followed? Or should they stop and turn around? Do we tell them to defend themselves as Trayvon appears to have done or to get on the ground like Oscar Grant?
Like Amber, Time’s Joe Klein agrees that things have changed. He argues that race and racism in this country is changing in ways that we really haven’t seen before. In the past the man who got away with killing an innocent black child was white, not Hispanic and the men they killed were different than Trayvon Martin.
This is not the 1980s; race isn’t the issue it was 30 years ago. It isn’t binary–black and white–anymore. It’s a kaleidoscope now: Latinos outnumber blacks in the American population, healthy dollops of South and East Asians add to the mix, and the prospect of a nonwhite majority is just around the bend. In 2013 the jury may still be almost all white, but the shooter is Hispanic–and the evidence is cloudy. If I were a member of that jury, operating in the context of Florida’s barbaric gun laws, I might have had to vote to acquit. George Zimmerman clearly was guilty of overzealous racial profiling, but there was no definitive evidence of how the scuffle began. It was not beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman was overacting in self-defense. Martin’s death is an outrage, but it is not Emmett Till or Medgar Evers.
Writers Michael Scherer and Elizabeth Dias discuss what the verdict meant to various people and how we move on from here. And lastly, Time interviewed Maya Angelou about her reaction to the verdict. She had this to say.
“That one man, armed with a gun can actually profile a young man because he is black and end up shooting him dead…It is so painful.”
She then described the psychological and international impact this verdict has on the American people.
“What is really injured, bruised, if you will, is the psyche of our national population,” Angelou said. “We are all harmed. We are all belittled, and we give to the rest of the world more ammunition to sneer at us.”
Read the rest of Maya Angelou’s interview here. And check out the rest of Time’s Trayvon coverage in the August issue.
What do you think of their decision to cover the verdict and its future implications?