“We Are The Survivors…” Columbus Short Pens A Letter About Trayvon Martin, The Verdict & Race Relations

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It’s been a week since the George Zimmerman verdict was heard around the world, but the pain and shock of the acquittal is still a hard pill to swallow.

And celebrities aren’t exempt. In the wake of the verdict, many stars have come forward to offer their support for Trayvon Martin, agree with the verdict, or just send their thoughts to the Martin/Fulton Family. 

But Columbus Short (from ABC’s hit show Scandal) decided to offer a different perspective on how to rise from the depths of this unfortunate situation and find our way through this difficult time.

Take a look at his heartfelt essay, titled A Letter To The Broken Hearted:

As I have sat and listened to debate after debate, in depth analysis and tempered opinions on “The Verdict” I couldn’t help but feel helpless, frustrated, hurt and yes, angry. As I plummet into the labyrinth of my mind in search of answers, solutions, or a way I could help subdue the burning desire for things to change, my only recourse was to start writing.

Presume we step back and take pause for a moment. Pause to take a cultural and personal inventory on where we have come as a people. As oppose to being blinded by the present emotional and economical condition of our nation, our community. What if we begin by acknowledging some of the triumphs, rather than becoming consumed solely by the injustice? I ask these questions for one reason being, that if I reflect and remember just how far we’ve come, instead of sitting and stewing over what has happened, I am now ensuring that I am not going to allow this “Decision” to stifle me as a human being nor as a black man in America.  

It may seem quite pretentious and easy to hear coming from my heart. However, I assure you I experience the same profiling and discrimination daily regardless of what I happen to do for a living. We must recognize that if we allow this particular ‘lost battle’ in the continuing war, that is ‘Race In America,’ to take us backwards, we will be backtracking and negating the progress that we have already made to date. 

Suppose we chose today to adopt a spirit of gratitude? Gratitude of what our predecessors marched for and died for, in order to allow us to even be where we are today. Without the blood shed of those who fought in this War long before us, it would not be possible for me to do what I do. Without those blistered hands and feet it wouldn’t be possible for a Black Woman to be the lead of a television series on network tv. Without those afraid, yet valiant, warriors, Oprah wouldn’t be one the wealthiest business icons in the world. Tyler Perry wouldn’t have been able to go from homelessness, to providing jobs for a multitude of unrecognized actors and actresses. Men like Steve Stout, who is an author, entrepreneur, former record executive and philanthropist, would have been only but a futile dream. Women like Melody Hudson would have never been accepted into Princeton, let alone graduate to become the President of Ariel Investments, LLC. A Chicago investment firm that manages over $3 billion in assets and one of the largest African American-owned money management and mutual fund companies in the United States. Oh yea and happens to be the wife of George Lucas, or should I say George Lucas is the husband of Melody Hudson.  

I offer these examples of African American trailblazers who chose not to allow social economical disadvantages to stunt or hinder their evolution as humans but, to provoke a change in our thinking, which will lead to a change in results. I truly believe that adopting this way of thinking is imperative to the survival and effectiveness of our people, our voice. Only those humans, not just black, but ALL those who choose to operate in spiritual growth, unblinded by the difference of one’s skin color, religion, and social status, will experience a drastic change of true human evolution, which in turn will spark a new dream.  This will make way to understanding that WE are the owners of the spoken words from our mouths. That no matter what social economic background we are from, our word has the power to create change. Our word has the power to tear down, and to build up. If we start to speak life into our community,  into ourselves, that is when change begins. Doing away with our jealous and envious ways toward each other, our own people. Putting to bed thoughts of being less than, ideals of self hate and division. Ideals that have been propagated into our people from the beginning. Dating back to the deciding of which slaves were worthy of working in the house as opposed to those working in the fields. Killing these old beliefs may rebuild a true love and unity within our communities. How can we expect to change the ideas the world has of us, unless we first begin to truly wholeheartedly commit to love ourselves? It is time to unite, and educate, as Nelson Mandela said, “Only with knowledge comes power”. We have, as a race, experienced some ugly realities but also have experienced some beautiful truths. One being that God chose us all to be here and be afforded all the the world and heavens have to offer. 

We may not see the mountain top MLK spoke of in our life time.  However, if we instill that same belief and that same unwavering strength into our kids and our youth. They will continue to claw their nails into the rocky mountain side and evenutally get there. Find solice in the fact that we have come so far. Granted not at the speed in which we have hoped and prayed for, for many of years but, in the ever so apparent evidence that progress has been made in spite of the challenges we’ve faced. What we do as a people, and as a nation from this moment on will decide if we are progressing or digressing. The outcome of the Zimmerman trial can’t allow us to implode on ourselves nor engage in self sabotaging behavior by looting and rioting. Reacting in self damaging behavior only reinforces all the other perceptions projected towards us. To get the right answers requires asking the right questions. Who paid Zimmerman’s defense? What companies were in support of his acquittal? By identifying those companies and choosing whether or not to economically contribute to their growth is one small example of expertly mending OUR POWER. This may seem to be a daunting task but, unquestionably effective in its result. Trayvon was a victim of racial profiling but WE are the SURVIVORS and always have been survivors. We shouldn’t let Trayvons death be in vein, but rather use this time to do a cultural evaluation into how we can unite in a way that will force our voices to be heard and undenied by our government and politicians. In the mean time, my prayers are with the Martin’s during this trying and heartbreaking time. Lets truly look at their example of what finding peace in the middle of the storm looks like. May this letter bring someone out there hope, and a desire to rise up and help lead us to change. We have work to do. But nothing we can’t handle. 

Willing, Hopeful and Grateful,

C.S.

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