The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


July 25, 2013

Aisha Sultan: A letter to my kids about the Zimmerman verdict

JOPLIN, Mo. — If I have raised you right, you should have felt a sadness, a pinch, a gut check, an anger, a hurt when that verdict was read.

Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old boy, was senselessly killed. Yes, that hurts. It should.

George Zimmerman, the man who shot him, was acquitted by a jury of six women in Florida.

A boy lost his life. And there was no acknowledgment from our criminal justice system that a wrong occurred.

We know the prosecution had an uphill battle to make a case in the land of Stand Your Ground. But this we know: Trayvon had bought Skittles and iced tea at a convenience store. He was walking back to where he was staying when Zimmerman followed him, and ended up in a confrontation.

Rather than repeat the rules you've heard from those who love you about how you should behave if you ever find yourself in a similar situation (because, hopefully, you know that survival matters most), let me say what we know in our hearts to be true:

That man should not have assumed Trayvon was a criminal because of how he was dressed or because he was black.

He should not have ignored the 911 dispatcher, who said he did not need to follow the teenager.

He should not have taken the law into his own hands.

All of that was wrong.

It's OK to feel outraged.

It's OK to feel scared for a moment.

Anything man-made is imperfect. Our laws, our government, our justice system can never be completely fair. And, if you look anything like Trayvon or have ever been looked at with suspicion simply for what and who you are, you know that better than most.

I know how that look feels. I hope that you will never learn how that look feels, but odds are that you will.

Anger. Fear. Resentment. These are powerful emotions. They can paralyze us, or they can call us to action. They are never justification for resignation or apathy or violence. Despite what louder voices might try to say, our country is not where it was 100 or 50 years ago. We will not discount the progress that has been made, the battles that have been fought and won. There are friendships and families that exist more easily, with more respect, that may not have been possible mere decades ago.

Any time we bear witness to injustice it is a reminder of how great our responsibility is, and that each of us has a role to play.

Look in the mirror. You may wear a hoodie. You might share Trayvon's features or color. Or you may not look a thing like him. It doesn't matter.

We are familiar with the saying that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama added, "It bends towards justice, but here is the thing: It does not bend on its own. It bends because each of us in our own ways put our hand on that arc and we bend it in the direction of justice."

Where are your hands on that arc?

Read. Read even more. Educate yourself. Make your voice heard. Call your elected officials. When you are able, vote. Work to help elect those who you believe will make things more fair. Stand up to bigotry when you hear it. Challenge assumptions when those around you make them.

And take a minute to feel what a teenager being questioned, followed and confronted by an unidentified man with a gun might have felt in the moments before he was shot.

After the anger and hurt, injustice is meant to remind us of our own power. It is the most stark reminder that our worth is not derived from others' assessment of us. It is intrinsic to us as human beings.

You know that you belong. You know your own value and worth, just as I know mine.

I still don't feel right inside about what happened with Trayvon or the man who killed him. Any of it.

I don't think we ever should.

Aisha Sultan is a St. Louis-based journalist who studies parenting in the digital age while trying to keep up with her tech-savvy children. Find her on Twitter: @AishaS.

Text Only
  • r070714palacedrinks2.jpg Spirits school: Drink-making lessons taught at downtown bar

    Some patrons have dubbed it "Drinks with Daniel," but the official name is "Cocktails 101," which has been attracting "students" for the last several weeks.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071114_steve cindy head.jpg New exhibit combines works of married couple

    Steve and Cindy Head create different types of art, which means they can be each other's best mentor. Steve makes mixed media works assembled from photographs, headlines and more; Cindy paints vivid patterns and fanciful scenes with bold color palettes.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tantric tours in support of latest studio album

    "37 Channels," the latest album from Hugo Ferreira's band, features a lineup of guests including Hinder's Austin Winkler, Shooter Jennings, 3 Doors Down drummer Greg Upchurch, Uncle Kracker guitarist Kevin McCreery, Saving Abel guitarist Scott Bartlett and Leif Garrettt.

    July 11, 2014

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Globe Phone Test: Concept is clever, but transitions tricky with Asus PadFone X

    It's kind of embarrassing to point this out, but "Candy Crush Saga" is one of the best ways to illustrate how well the Asus PadFone X, a smartphone and tablet combo really works.

    Anyone who has more than one device will understand this situation completely: Let's say a player fires up "Candy Crush" on his tablet computer and really digs the game. A lot. So much so that he downloads it to his smartphone.

    Only there's one problem: All the progress made on the tablet is stuck on the tablet. The smartphone has a completely separate path of progress, meaning the player has to play each level twice. This makes progress through the game twice as long. (This problem can be fixed by signing up for the game on Facebook, but no one really wants their Facebook friends to know they spend so much time crushin' candy.)

    The Asus PadFone X is the dream solution to this nightmare of a problem.

    Available exclusively from AT&T, the device is actually two devices. A standalone smartphone can be plugged into a tablet computer, meaning the owner can take his pick of how he wants to play the game, and all the progress he makes is saved on one device's hard drive.

    AT&T loaned us a device that we tested for more than two weeks -- didn't like having to send it back -- and we found a lot of its qualities and quirks.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071014_sugar rush1.jpg Sweet summer: Candy factory opens floor for tours, tasting

    When family from Kansas City came to visit Christy Albertson in her family's Webb City home, she wanted to find something entertaining for five kids.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • images_sizedimage_108172906 Benji Tunnell: 'Transformers' reaches new level of terrible filmmaking

    Then there's "Transformers: Age of Extinction," a film so bereft of originality, spontaneity and life that one would assume its creator must be a talentless hack. That's when you remember that it was directed by Michael Bay.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marta-mug.jpg Marta Churchwell: Crystal Bridges' coup makes art world cry foul

    I find Eastern art snobs insufferable. I have little patience for their pretentious eyebrow-raising over anything unworthy of their refined tastes.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jermiah-Tucker-020812.jpg Jeremiah Tucker: Power pop plays perfectly for Fourth of July

    One of the best bits from the long-running -- and sadly now defunct -- "Best Show on WFMU" with Tom Scharpling was the character Power Pop Pop Pop. The independent call-in and comedy radio show explored this menacing, Godfather-like figure of the power pop community via one of his minions, played by the brilliant indie rock drummer and comedian Jon Wurster.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Joe Hadsall: Found-footage tornado movie may be terrifying

    Funny how all it takes is one little thing to bring back the full onslaught of tornado-related dread, desolation and depression. This time, it was a movie trailer.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • aisha-sultan-mug.jpg Aisha Sultan: Study shows popular kids peak too early

    It was, of course, a popular mean girl who made my life miserable in middle school.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

Speaking of Gardens


New Kansas teaching license regulations would allow some individuals who have ample expertise but do not have education degrees to become secondary school teachers. Do you agree or disagree with that change?

     View Results

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter