No More Cheesecake (Reflections on the George Zimmerman Verdict)


We got home late after a really long day of ministry. I was kinda zoned out and only thinking about one thing...relaxation. I was sitting on the couch with my son watching the movie Antz while we shared a leftover piece of cheesecake. He begged for a piece, and I gave a him a sharp, gruff, "No!" I'm trying to teach him not to beg and whine for what he wants. I felt good because he took it like a man. I know he wanted to keep asking. I could see it almost spilling out of him. But he held it in. I was proud.

Thing is, I had every intention to share it with him in the first place. There is no way on earth that I could sit on my couch with my son next to me and not share this small slice of sweetness. Plus, I'm also trying to teach him how to share. It gives me leverage for me to share something so desirable with him. So it makes me happy to make him happy by sharing my cake with him. Truth is, he is what makes the cake so sweet. We killed that cake. He got the last bite. Don't you just hate that feeling when you're really enjoying something and then you realize it's all gone. I hate that feeling. No more cheesecake.

I hugged him tight and we watched one little Ant take action against an oppressive force in his colony. Funny thing, kid's movies be kinda deep.

My wife was sitting behind us on the stairs scrolling through her phone and looked up to say, "We have a verdict: Not guilty." Everything just froze. I had every intention of going to bed early, but now I can't sleep. I poured over Facebook and twitter reactions to the verdict. Posting, tweeting, commenting, liking, retweeting, searching...for something...anything that would make sense out of the senseless failure to deliver justice to a hurting family and a reeling community.  I didn't go to bed till after 2:30. I hate going to bed on an empty stomach. There's that feeling again. Unsatisfied.  No more cheesecake.

When I woke up this morning I wondered would we be
hungry enough for justice that it led us to speak out more?
When I woke up this morning I just felt really off. Bad taste in my mouth. I wondered, "Is it just me? What are other people saying?" Then I noticed that several cities were wide awake with protests through the night: D.C., Miami, San Fran, and more. I noticed this link to a site where they were listing all the cities, rallies, and protests happening today and tomorrow around the country. I didn't eat breakfast, but I was hungry.

My family spent the day with friends at the zoo; a much needed distraction from the frustration that would've probably consumed the better part of my day. It still didn't feel right though. I took note that there weren't many black folks at the zoo today. My wife agreed. Somebody commented that maybe they were all at church. Well this was certainly a good day to be in church. I actually woke up wondering what a few pastors would have to say on this particular Sunday. Plus, they always have good cake at church potlucks; or at least they used to. As I said, the zoo didn't seem right. I thought a lot about how they often treat us like animals (or less than animals). I thought about how our young black men are getting hunted down in the street like animals (S/O to Trayvon Martin). I thought about how they lock our young black men up in cages in such a disproportionate number (S/O to Michelle Alexander). I thought about the one person I'd like to see locked up in a cage right now (S/O to George Zimmerman). But still, no cheesecake.

Some people take this ultra high and super sanctimonious road; suggesting that we ought to be more upset about black on black crime than we are about George Zimmerman. To them I say, "Stop changing the subject! We're talking about cake. You're talking about Kool-aid." In other words, There's a big difference between impoverished and oppressed people in desperate situations taking desperate measures with disastrous ends. But this was a innocent young brother walking through a nice neighbor who was shot by a stranger for little reason beyond suspicion. Nowadays we don't even have to be poor, ghetto, criminals. You could be innocent, in a nice neighborhood, with a sweet tooth and a penchant for canned soft drinks. This verdict says you're not safe no matter who you are, or where you are. And the law does not, will not, protect you. Too bad, no cheesecake for you.

I'm hoping that this makes some people hungry...like really hungry. I know a lot of people are asking why we're so angry. Maybe it's because they've never been harassed by the cops. I have. Multiple times.  Maybe they've never known anybody who was innocent and still got 15 years of hard prison time. I have. Numerous times. Maybe it's because black people keep coming up on the short end of the stick in these types of situations. Maybe it's because they don't have to teach their sons the same lessons that we have to teach our sons. But hey, maybe it's because you never find The Cheesecake Factory anywhere but the white neighborhood. I still want more cheesecake.
Mr. Martin and his family can no longer share precious
moments together. Trayvon is never coming back. 

Anybody else hungry? Will our hunger lead us to speak up and speak out? Will our hunger lead us to get out into the streets, march, and protest? Will our hunger drive us beyond marches and speeches? Will our hunger lead us to lobby for legislative change?  Will our hunger embolden us to organize in our communities and protect our youth from the forces that seek to destroy them? Will our hunger incite us to educate our sons and daughters for generational change? Anybody for some cheesecake?

Too bad for the Martin family. Especially, Mr. Tracy Martin. For them, for him, there's no more cheesecake. No more Saturday nights watching movies with his son. No more lessons to teach. No more sweet special moments to share. No more football games. No more justice; at least not right now. The cheesecake's all gone. The state of Florida killed that cake. George Zimmerman ate the last bite.