Many citizens felt deeply shocked and disgusted by the George Zimmerman verdict. I've written about what is disturbing about by it. There have been mostly peaceful protests across the country. But most of us who were upset by the verdict also felt a sense of powerlessness, which was unsettling. I was inspired though, by these two recent events of citizens being creative about registering their dissent and displeasure.
As many were still reeling from the verdict, we found out that one of the jurors, less than 48 hours after the not guilty verdict was rendered, had already secured herself an agent to cash in on a tell-all book deal. Juror B37, who will not reveal her identity, appeared for an interview with Anderson Cooper. I'm not even going to bother linking to the garbage interview in which the attention seeker shows her total lack of sensitivity and white privilege.
But after that interview aired, one woman's outrage led to a tiny social media outburst that for the time being, halted the book deal. Genie Lauren, whose twitter handle is @moreandagain, fumed, and then she did some research online to find out who Juror B37's agent was. She then urged her twitter followers to flood the agent, Sharlene Martin's, email, twitter, and voice-mail to drop Juror B37 as a client citing the opportunistic nature of the project and the hurt it would cause Trayvon Martin's family. Ms. Lauren also put up an online petition to the pressure Martin to drop her client. It worked. Within hours, Sharlene Martin had issued a statement saying she was dropping Juror B37 and the juror herself issued a statement saying she was halting the project. Soon after, four of the other jurors released a joint statement distancing themselves from the rapacious actions of Juror B37.
Meanwhile, Stevie Wonder has pledged to boycott the state of Florida until the Stand Your Ground law is invalidated. Slate explained why his move was "politically savvy and morally righteous":
While Stevie Wonder’s boycott of an entire state might have exerted real pressure in, say, 1976, in 2013 it’s almost entirely a symbolic act. But symbolic acts are often the first step toward kicking off concrete ones, and we should imagine what would happen if likeminded artists followed suit. ... If these artists were to join in Wonder’s boycott, the bottom lines of club promoters and festival organizers and concert arenas would start to look different in a hurry.
And good luck finding a decent hip-hop show in Florida. Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, Ghostface Killah, Big Boi, Q-Tip, Ace Hood, Mac Miller, Nicki Minaj, Flo Rida, and Chuck D are just a few names who’ve expressed sorrow and consternation at the Zimmerman verdict. A widespread hip-hop boycott of Florida would be hugely powerful, particularly given Miami’s emergence in the past decade as one of the music’s epicenters.
Protest can take many forms. I thank Genie Lauren, the 4 jurors who are not Juror B37, and Stevie Wonder for illustrating different ways of constructively reacting to this tragedy. On my end, as a political science professor who specializes in law and courts, I'm planning a new course on racial disparity and the criminal justice system. The course will focus on the institutional racism built into the criminal justice system and the sorry history of racial disparity that has resulted. I've thought about preparing this course for awhile, but now seems the time to do it.