NYC's parents struggle with explaining the Zimmerman verdict to their kids
For New York's parents of color, the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman presents yet another sad and unwelcome parenting challenge: How do they tell their kids a black 17-year-old is gunned down and no one goes to jail for it?
Danielle Crews, 31, an administrative assistant from Yorkville worried Sunday how to explain the justice system and its verdicts to her eight-year-old son. She planned to stress the importance of working constructively to fix a system with what she called overly liberal gun laws and "stand your ground" statutes that allowed Zimmerman to be armed and and shoot Trayvon Martin, 17, in Sanford, Fla. "Violence and anger is easy, and often the initial reaction, but you have to do the work to get these laws changed," Crews said. "Political action makes much more of a difference than writing on Facebook.""My 21-year-old son is very upset," said Dawn Speed, 48, a testing manager from Harlem who has four children between the ages of 12 and 32. She empathized with her son's complaint that there is "no justice for black people" but cautioned him not to act rashly. They have already had the convo about always carrying ID and being respectful to police, but now, she said, they will have one about encounters with menacing strangers: "Stay calm. Walk away. Don't engage the other person," she plans to say.
Speed was disappointed in the verdict because in part because it seemed a step back from an otherwise encouraging march to equality. Her family celebrated when Barack Obama was elected president ("I never thought I'd see a black president in my lifetime!") so her family is trying to put this latest setback in context and "stay positive," she said.
The verdict "really emphasizes the dangers out there," that confront young black men and "makes me even more leery of what is out there for my son," said Nilda Weatherspoon, 44, a bank administrator from the Lower East Side.
Weatherspoon's 18-year-old son is in college in North Carolina and currently in court fighting what he believes to be an undeserved moving violation ticket. Injustice for young men of color said Weatherspoon, "is just a way of life," they must be taught "to talk your way out of things instead of resorting to violence. You just have to," because their lives are at stake, said Weatherspoon.
Nina Murrell, 52, a social worker in Harlem, wasn't surprised by the verdict but was chagrined to see that her daughter, Tahirih, 12, was more upset by the news that "Glee" actor Cory Monteith was found dead in a hotel room on Saturday
"She thinks I'm just a bitter old woman," to be preoccupied by social justice concerns, said Murrell, gesturing to her seventh grader.
Tahirih said she had already spent a lot of time in school talking about Martin's death. "It's not that I care more about Cory -- it's just that his death is more recent," she said.