08 Sep 2014
Greater Houston Black Chamber Of Commerce Announces
ELITE Change, Inc. As 2014 Pinnacle Awards Finalist
Houston-Based Public Affairs Firm Recognized As Finalist for the
20th Annual Pinnacle Awards
For Immediate Release
August 25, 2014 – (HOUSTON, TX) – The Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce (GHBC) revealed Houston-based public affairs firm ELITE Change, Inc. as a finalist for the 2014 Pinnacle Awards in an announcement released Friday.
Founded in 1935 as the city’s first African-American civic organization, the GHBC has evolved into an active participant in the City of Houston’s socioeconomic process. The GHBC helps its partners and members navigate Houston’s large, diverse population, industries and the many nuances, which are unique to our city. The GHBC is Houston’s premier source for identifying quality and qualified African-American, multi-sectored small businesses to do business with. The organization has a database of over 2,000 unique resources and members.
“It is a great honor to be recognized by such an important organization that focuses on the prosperity and growth of Black businesses in Houston,” said ELITE Change, Inc. President & CEO Dallas S. Jones. “Our company is founded on the principle of empowering the communities in which we work, so we are truly humbled to be recognized by a true pillar of the community in the GHBC.”
The Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce’s Pinnacle Awards honors African-American businesses that have achieved success by combining vision, determination, perseverance, and dedication to building strong communities. The winners will be awarded during the 20th Annual Pinnacle Awards Black Tie Gala on Friday October 11, 2014, 7:00 pm at the Power Center. The GHBC will host its Pinnacle Awards Nominee Reception on Thursday August 28, 2014 from 6-8pm at the Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main Street.
ELITE Change, Inc.is public affairs consulting firm dedicated to making a difference in todays political and business settings by empowering organizations and individuals to be leaders in the communities they serve. ELITE Change specializes in Public Affairs, Strategic Communications, and Business Development. The company boasts a prominent client list of non-profits, corporations, and elected officials across many levels of government. Their client list includes Verizon, Major League Baseball (MLB), Lyft, Marshall Retail Group, NAACP, Stand for Children, State Senator Rodney Ellis, and Houston City Councilmembers Dwight Boykins and Larry Green, amongst many others.
25 Aug 2014
By: Max Moll
I find it hard to sleep sometimes.
It’s often due to one of the major culprits – a cup of coffee consumed too late in the day, a project left uncompleted, the things done that day, the things yet to be done for the next day, the internal struggle of achievements attained and ambitions unreached. The list goes on, but you probably get the point. It’s likely that we all have that one thing that makes it hard for us to rest. I guess that’s just part of this life we lead.
But last night was different.
Last night I found myself in a mental space that I don’t often like stirring in. As I scrolled through the bits of news from the day that I had missed that morning, I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into hopelessness. ISIS, Iraq, the senseless killing of an American journalist; Hamas, Israel, Palestine, the bloodshed; Michael Brown, Ferguson, MO, another young man gunned down for no real reason besides the color of his skin. It was a lot.
“The world sure seems to be coming unhinged,” I thought as I continued to scroll through my iPad. As I ran out of new stories to digest, I ended up in the place where common sense, compassion, and civility go to die – the comments section. As to why I ended up there, I’m not sure. I certainly knew what I was getting myself into. In a day where the seething hatred of others can reach countless people in a matter of seconds, with the relative anonymity of the author protected by a computer screen and keyboard, I should’ve have seen it coming.
Take for example, a story that framed a comment from President Obama to sound as if he thought that withdrawing troops from Iraq was a bad idea and all President Bush’s fault. For the purposes of this piece – as well as personal posterity – I took a screenshot to capture the true essence of what I’m talking about.
It really is unbelievable. Again, for the sake of posterity I took a screenshot of the Facebook comments on the same article.
As I sorted through my thoughts before composing this piece, I finally realized why I found it hard to sleep last night. Even through all of the problems going on in the world, I found myself most troubled by the idiocy of the comments section. Due in large part to the biases of contemporary media outlets, the prominence of social media, and the polarization of today’s political environment, it seems as though we’ve lost the ability to have constructive discourse. What used to be a bedrock principle our system has now mostly become a pie-in-the-sky dream of our forefathers.
Sure, there have always been those who hold very negative opinions of our elected officials – George W. Bush caught a lot of it, Bill Clinton did as well – but we are currently seeing hatred reaching brand new heights (or depths?) Don’t believe it? Just look at the comments above in regards to our President.
“Only reason he got elected was he was black.” “He is Arab, not Black.” “But he knew to pull the race card because he knew that would be the only way he could get elected to ruin OUR not his country!” Another comment links to an article declaring President Obama as a part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Honestly, I couldn’t make this stuff up.
If the comments themselves are troubling, it’s the undertones are truly damning. That conversation is for another piece, but let’s just say that the undertones are in the same vein as clamoring for our President’s birth certificate and the ridiculous claims of “SOCIALIST! MARXIST!” Yeah, those undertones.
That said, these are just small, anecdotal examples of a larger question – will we ever be able to meet in the middle again? Will we ever be able to stop the mud flinging and elementary name-calling? Will we ever be able to stop talking about “left” ideas and “right” ideas, and come up with good ideas? Is our system under so much stress from both sides that it will eventually break? Has it already? I’m not sure, but I sure hope not.
When operating as it should, our political system is unlike any other seen in the history of this world. When we put aside petty partisan differences and replace them with a common belief that we can work together to help build the greater good, we achieve things no other country in the world can. That is what makes us uniquely American, and what makes this country greater than the rest.
Maybe this a hope based in naiveté, but I hope that we can reach that place again. That place where our disagreement and discourse leads to results, not partisan divide. That place where “left” and “right” are not stakes in the ground, but leanings that simply make us unique. That place where the middle isn’t missing.
15 Jun 2014
By: Max Moll
My father is a mountain of a man. Not in the physical sense – he’s a bit above average height and of average build – but in the personal sense. It’s in the sense that makes a person who they are.
A man who has provided me with so much in life; he has taught me how to be a man, how to treat and care for others, and how to work tirelessly toward my goals. My dad has worked for everything he has achieved in life, and that’s what makes him undeniably American. Simply put, my dad is the embodiment of the American Dream. Oh, and he’s also an immigrant.
If you’ve been paying any attention to statewide or national politics, you’ve likely heard the rhetoric surrounding the “issue” of immigration. If not, here’s a quick recap: the Texas GOP held it’s bi-annual convention last weekend and adopted what is arguably the firmest stance against immigration taken by a political party in recent memory. They also took a harsh absurd stance on gay human rights that looks to push our state back into the 1950’s, but that’s beside the point.
At the national level, Tea Party candidates continue to oust “moderate” Republicans, looking to replace kind-of extreme policymakers with all-the-way extreme ones. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor – a Republican who was widely expected to *gasp* actually allow the immigration reform discussion to take place – was defeated by a novice candidate backed by overwhelming Tea Party support. Just sit on that for a minute. The most Conservative member in the House leadership was defeated because he wasn’t conservative enough. The Republican Party Civil War is alive and well, indeed.
The Republican Party is veering to the right whether it likes it or not. So what happens when the extreme viewpoint of a vocal minority overtakes the national discourse of trying to develop public policy that encourages responsible growth and, I don’t know, maybe even progress?
As I mentioned earlier, my dad is an immigrant. He came to this country from Santiago, Chile on a tourist visa, met my mother, got married, and is now a permanent US resident. He has paid his taxes, has purchased a home, and has sent two kids to college. Great story, right? Well, what if I told you that he might have overstayed that visa I mentioned earlier? Using today’s political rhetoric on immigration as our guide, it’s likely that you may now have a different view of my father’s story.
My dad would be the first to tell you that what he did wasn’t right; he was young and stupid, didn’t have many responsibilities – you know the argument. He would also say that he doesn’t agree with those who come here illegally and take advantage of our social programs while not contributing anything in return. But what he would also tell you is that he came to this country as a young man, fell in love with it (and my wonderful mother), and saw a better future for himself and his family within the borders of the USA. Because of that, he did what he needed to do to ensure that he could “right his wrong” the best way he could.
Our rhetoric on immigration sends a message to not just to those people who live within our borders, but to the rest of the world as well. So when we call for the rolling back of the state guest-worker program, or the repeal of in-state tuition eligibility, or increasing the penalties for those who “knowingly” hire illegal immigrants, what message are we sending? To me, the picture we are painting is a far cry from the one that depicts Lady Liberty as the beacon of hope welcoming foreigners to her shores.
At the end of the day, the majority of us are immigrants of this great country. Whether your family came from England, or Mexico, or Russia, or Nigeria, or Chile; most of us have that one thing that unifies us. I believe that it is our responsibility to encourage this unifying diversity. We must make the process of coming here legally easier, not more difficult. We must inspire the best and the brightest to come to our shores, not turn them away. We must foster accessibility to this great country, not stifle it.
I spoke to my father before writing this piece. I spoke to him not because I wanted to use an anecdotal story to push my point of view, but because I wanted him to know that his story is one that should be told. As we talked he said something that will always stick with me. He said, “Son, being ‘American’ isn’t about where you’re from, it’s about who you are. It’s about getting up every day and working as hard as you possibly can to accomplish whatever you’ve set out to do in life. It’s about caring for your family and neighbors, and making sure that future generations have more opportunities tomorrow than you did today.”
I couldn’t agree more.
01 Apr 2014
By: Dallas Jones
The day is finally here. After months and months of build up and anticipation the day has finally come. No, I’m not talking about Major League Baseball’s Opening Day (although that’s a big deal, just like MLB’s Civil Rights Game on May 30th in Houston is too!) No, today is the is the day after the end of the first open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act, our country’s new health law.
Otherwise known as Obamacare, the ACA seeks to correct some of the fatal flaws that have plagued this country’s health insurance system for years. Gone are the days of being denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. No more are insurance plans that neglect to offer preventative care. Cured is the system that allowed health insurance companies to increase consumer rates at any time for little or no reason.
I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who thinks that any of what is mentioned above is a bad thing, no matter the political stance. Getting sick doesn’t know a political party – or at least it shouldn’t.
Obamacare is by and far today’s most politically divisive issue. Millions of dollars have been poured into campaigns both for and against the law over the past year, and it’s only going to get worse as mid-term elections draw near. Republicans will talk about the disastrous rollout, the “lackluster” number of people who have paid their premiums, and how the ACA is another example of government overreach. Democrats will champion its coverage of people previously uncovered, its overall accessibility, and its ability to clean up an industry that desperately needed it. And while these arguments are all politically viable, the conversation shouldn’t be about politics – it should be about people.
Having spent quite a bit of time working on the issue over the past few months, I’ve learned just how personal it can be. Each person that I had the opportunity to encounter had his or her own personal story as to why this was important. Maybe it was because they were recently laid off and needed coverage in the interim between jobs. Or maybe it was that their son was previously denied coverage because he was diagnosed with clinical depression years ago. Or maybe it was that they could finally enroll in a plan because they could finally afford it. Notice how there were no politics involved? Weird, I know.
Unfortunately, these stories aren’t the ones being told.
Due in part to the 24-hour news cycle and the media always looking to cover the biggest controversy of the day to help boost ratings, these personal stories are often the ones pushed under the rug. Sure, supporters of the law will prop these stories up, but they will likely go no further than the kitchen table. That said, the true blame doesn’t lie with the media; it lies on us. We spend so much time arguing the politics of an issue that we oftentimes forget what the issue is or why we were arguing in the first place. We sometimes argue all the minutia of an issue until the bigger picture becomes lost on us. And in that lies the true problem.
The issue of health care in this country should be an easy one. We are the most advanced country in the world but yet we still have people who can’t afford, or will go broke trying to afford, the skyrocketing costs of health care. Forgetting all of the politics around the issue, this truth is one that none of us should accept. The law isn’t perfect – that website really needs some work, some people will not see plans as affordable, and others will prefer the old way of doing things. Those are all valid stances, but that shouldn’t keep us from realizing the positive impact it’s having on the people around us.
We will likely be having the same conversation about the same issues for many years to come. But it is up to us to face these issues together. Don’t like the law? Well, let’s find a way to fix it! The beauty of this country and its Democracy is in its ability to encourage constructive discourse. Our views may be wildly different, but the conversation should lead to progress. It’s when this discourse turns into distain that the point of it all gets lost on us.
And that’s the true tragedy, because this isn’t about you or I. It’s about “we” and the greater good.
05 Mar 2014
By: Max Moll
Political advertising is a fickle thing. Step too far one way and you alienate half of your target audience. Lean too far toward another, and you distance yourself from another portion of the electorate. As a candidate, burning up your popular support is always one misstep or ill-articulated phrase away. And usually, the unintended consequence of avoiding calculated direction leads to a kind of one-size fits all approach to communicating a message.
With the Texas primary election taking place yesterday, it’s safe to say that we’ve all seen our fair share of ads from someone running for Senate, or Ag Commissioner, or State Rep, or Mayor of Munchkin City, or whatever office seems most opportune for a candidate to secure. At this point, whether you have been paying attention to the ads or not is pretty irrelevant because, spoiler alert – they all sound (and look) the same.
Before I go further, let me acknowledge that we’re talking about primary elections. That means that every candidate is trying to appeal to the same target audience, the same constituency. With this comes an inherent amount of redundancy in both messaging and visual appeal. With that said, it’s become apparently clear that not only are the ads for this year’s primary election eerily similar, they’re practically interchangeable from candidate to candidate.
Take this ad for instance:
Ranch and gun? Check. Keep the border closed? Check. Fight President Obama and the liberal, socialist, propagandist, communist government? Definitely, check. Pretty standard stuff (for Texas) at first glance, right? Well, compare it to this one:
Or maybe this one:
Notice any recurring themes?
As someone who is both heavily involved in the political world and fairly attuned to the messaging used by political campaigns, these ads are pretty disheartening. Never mind that my political views are in stark contrast from what is communicated in these spots – I promise, that’s not the point. The point is, as players in this political game we must do better. We must hold our profession and ourselves to higher esteem than just regurgitating the stereotypical messages and visual cues we have become accustomed to feeding the electorate for years. No matter our party or political stances, we have to be better than that.
I think my disdain for these ads is due in part to a book that I’m currently re-reading. Written by my former professor and mentor Robert Mann, “Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds: LBJ, Barry Goldwater, and the Ad That Changed American Politics” takes a look at a seminal moment in American political advertising. Produced in 1964 by Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign against Barry Goldwater, the advertisement is everything that visual and audible messaging should be. It’s a tale of dichotomies. It’s innocent and terrifying. It’s both simple and complex. Its strength is in what’s being said without actually saying it. Basically, it’s incredible.
While I realize that an ad utilized in a Republican primary in Texas is much different than one used in a nation-wide presidential campaign, the same rules still apply. There really is no excuse. The “Daisy Girl” ad isn’t an expensive – or hard, for that matter – ad to produce. Even the most cash-strapped local campaign could produce a similar spot with relative ease. A young girl, a flower, a stock video of an atom bomb exploding, and boom! You’re done.
Where the difference in these ads is in the way the message is being communicated. The first three are under the impression that they have to feed you their message through brute force. The “Daisy Girl” ad on the other hand, communicates its message much more effectively without forcing itself on you. Notice that LBJ’s opponent wasn’t even mentioned in the spot. Again, the power of the ad is in what it didn’t have to say – Elect Barry Goldwater and risk all out nuclear war and the safety of everything you hold dear.
The flaws in these ads also speaks to both the world in which we live and the way that we’ve become accustomed to consuming information. In our generation of re-tweets and BuzzFeed lists, we like our information to be delivered quickly. The demand on our attention span is greater today than any time in history, and we don’t want to expend any of our valuable time or mental capacity reading further into something. The problem with this is that when every candidate is vying for a bit our limited mind space, their messages become diluted to the lowest common denominator (i.e. “Secure The Border. Fight Obama.”) This leads to generic messaging, which leads to generic ads, which leads to something being said without anything actually being said. Throw in three of four more candidates all seeking support from the same target constituency, and you’ve got a chorus of messaging that does nothing to stand out in the mind of the viewer.
And while this sort-of vicious cycle is no fault of anyone in particular, it is up to those who have made a career of crafting these campaigns to take more pride in creating inspiring, thoughtful work. Whether a candidate is a natural-born leader or not, it is our job to mold them into the best version of their political selves they can be. It is our duty to make them feel comfortable as the leader of the band, not just part of it. It is up to us to ensure that their voice stands out on its own and doesn’t become drowned out by the chorus.
03 Mar 2014
Elite Change, Inc. To Spearhead Public Outreach For Major League Baseball’s 2014 Civil Rights Game
Civil Rights Game; Ancillary Events To Continue MLB’s Commitment To Equality
For Immediate Release
March 3rd, 2014 – (HOUSTON, TX) – Houston-based public affairs and strategic communications firm Elite Change, Inc. will continue its work with Major League Baseball (MLB) by leading community outreach efforts around the 2014 MLB Civil Rights Game. This announcement comes on the heels of the firm’s work last year of leading outreach efforts for Major League Baseball’s 2nd Annual Diversity Business Summit.
“We are thrilled to continue our work with Major League Baseball,” said Elite Change, Inc. President & CEO, Dallas Jones. “After the success of last year’s Diversity Business Summit, we are anxious to get to work promoting the 2014 Civil Rights Game, as well as Major League Baseball’s trailblazing commitment to fostering diversity in our community. MLB’s legacy of inclusion and diversity is well-documented – we feel truly honored to be a part of it.”
The 2014 Civil Rights Game and ancillary events will take place May 29th & 30th in Houston, Texas and will be co-hosted by the Houston Astros. Civil Rights Game events include the “Baseball & the Civil Rights Movement Roundtable Discussion;” the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon honoring Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown, Motown founder Berry Gordy, and world-renowned poet Maya Angelou; and the 8th annual MLB Civil Rights Game between the Houston Astros & Baltimore Orioles at Minute Maid Park.
“We are very excited to be working with Elite Change, Inc. on one of Major League Baseball’s most important events,” said Sylvia Lind, Director of Baseball Development Initiatives for MLB. “Their work on last year’s Diversity Business Summit made a tremendous impact, and we have no doubt that together we will make this year’s Civil Rights Game the best one yet. We look forward to engaging Houston’s incredibly diverse communities and citizens to continue our work of paying tribute to those who fight on and off the field for equal rights for all Americans.”
Founded in 2006, Elite Change, Inc. has grown into a nationally recognized firm focused on influencing and building communities around its clients’ initiatives. Along with the 2013 MLB Diversity Business Summit, Elite Change, Inc.’s client list includes entities and individuals doing business at all levels of the political, corporate, and public sectors. Much of the firm’s success has been rooted in the work it has done in communities of diverse cultural backgrounds.
To learn more about the 2014 Major League Baseball Civil Rights Game and ancillary events, please visit http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/civil_rights_game/y2014/index.jsp.
About Elite Change, Inc. Founded in 2006 by President & CEO Dallas S. Jones, Elite Change, Inc. is a full-service public affairs and strategic communications firm based in Houston, Texas. Since its inception, Elite Change has become a nationally recognized firm working in the public, government, and corporate sectors. Born out of the concept of “Empowering Leadership In Today’s Environment,” Elite change, Inc.’s mission is to make a positive impact in the communities in which it works. For more on the firm, please visit http://www.elitechange.com.
27 Feb 2014
Singer/Songwriter Aloe Blacc and Grammy Award-Winning Violinist/Producer Miri Ben-Ari Will Perform at the Event, Which Will Honor Dr. Maya Angelou, Berry Gordy and Jim Brown
Blacc will also Perform On-Field at Minute Maid Park Prior to the Civil Rights Game
Robin Roberts, co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” will be the keynote speaker at the Beacon Awards Luncheon, where Dr. Maya Angelou, Berry Gordy and Jim Brown will be honored, as part of the series of events for the 2014 Civil Rights Game, co-hosted by the Houston Astros. Additionally, singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc will perform one song and, in the spirit of the event, Grammy Award-winning violinist and UN Goodwill Ambassador Miri Ben-Ari will perform her song Symphony of Brotherhood, featuring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the iconic “I Have A Dream” speech. Tickets for the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon, which will be on Friday, May 30th (Noon Central Time) at the Hilton of the Americas, are available at MLB.com/civilrightsgame and Astros.com/civilrightsgame.
Blacc will also perform two songs on-field prior to the Civil Rights Game at Minute Maid Park, the home of the Houston Astros, and part of his performance will air on MLB Network. The MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon is one of the Civil Rights Game events, which were developed by MLB to pay tribute to those who fought on and off the field for equal rights for all Americans. Accordingly, the MLB Beacon Awards recognize individuals whose lives and actions have been emblematic of the spirit of the civil rights movement. Proceeds from the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon will benefit charities to be announced at a later date. The 2014 Civil Rights Game will be played between the Astros and the Baltimore Orioles at Minute Maid Park on Friday, May 30th, airing nationally on MLB Network.
Robin Roberts is co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” bringing more than 20 years of broadcast experience to the Emmy Award-winning show. Since joining the program in 2005, she has conducted headline-making interviews with countless musicians, authors, athletes and celebrities. In addition to her daily contributions to “GMA,” Roberts has done extensive reporting around the globe including a trip to the Middle East with former First Lady Laura Bush, who was on a mission to raise awareness about breast cancer in the Muslim world, to Africa with former President Bill Clinton for a first-hand look at the AIDS crisis in that part of the word, to Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake and much more. Prior to joining ABC, she was a contributor to ESPN for 15 years and was one of the network’s most versatile commentators including hosting “SportsCenter” and contributing to NFL Primetime.
Roberts is an inspiration to many, having used personal challenges and triumphs to raise awareness of important issues around the world. In recognition of her very public and courageous battles against breast cancer and more recently a rare bone marrow disease, she has been acknowledged with awards and honors from organizations around the country, including: The Susan G. Komen Foundation; The Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program; and Gilda’s Club, a non-profit organization founded by the late Joel Siegel. She also received the 2013 Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY Awards on July 16th, 2013.
Aloe Blacc will release his major-label debut album titled Lift Your Spirit on Tuesday, March 11th on XIX Recordings/Interscope Records. The set follows Blacc’s collaboration as vocalist and co-writer on well-known DJ/producer Avicii’s track Wake Me Up, a song that hit the Top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on its Hot Dance Club Songs and Dance/Electronic Songs charts, as well as topping charts in more than 100 countries. Blacc’s five-track “Wake Me Up” EP came out last September and included an acoustic version of the title track. Blacc’s current single, The Man, which is featured in the new Beats by Dre national TV campaign, is quickly climbing to the top of the charts with more than one million singles sold. Blacc is featured in the line-up for this April’s Coachella festival and will be touring the U.S. this summer with Bruno Mars. To learn more about Aloe Blacc, visit www.aloeblacc.com and follow him on Twitter (@aloeblacc).
Miri Ben-Ari is a Grammy Award-winning violinist/producer, UN Goodwill Ambassador, humanitarian and the Global Brand Ambassador of Harman Kardon. Originally from Israel, she is a recognized musical pioneer, having created her own unique sound – a revolutionary fusion of classical, soul and dance music. She has worked with artists such as Kanye West, Jay Z and Armin Van Buuren and has been honored by First Lady, Michelle Obama at the White House as a “Remarkable Woman.” Ben-Ari is the CEO and co-founder of “Gedenk,” a nonprofit dedicated to promoting awareness of the Jewish Holocaust among young people. To learn more about Miri Ben-Ari visit www.miribenari.com, visit Facebook.com/MiriBenAri and follow her on Twitter (@MiriBenAri).
15 Jul 2013
By: Dallas S. Jones
By now I’ve had some time to digest my thoughts and feelings regarding yesterday’s verdict in the George Zimmerman trial for the heinous murder of Trayvon Martin. My prayers are with both the Martin and Zimmerman families as they seek to piece back the remnants of their lives that existed before they were flung into the national spotlight. For the Zimmerman family, that means learning to exist in a world where your name is synonymous with hate and bigotry, and invokes passion from millions about what justice means in our country. For the Martins, it’s learning to live without the child that was so beloved, and never feeling vindicated that justice prevailed through his death.
For the rest of us, I believe it’s time that we look to tomorrow. I’ve seen by now through my various social networks the anger and rage that was felt by so many around our country. This anger and rage crossed all color and socio economic lines. I watched friends from all walks of life come together and call for justice to be served in the Zimmerman trial.
I also watched many turn this into an issue of race in our country, and spew divisive language albeit the action of one man. Do I believe race played a factor in the murder of Trayvon Martin? Absolutely. Do I believe the justice failed us by exonerating George Zimmerman? Unfortunately I do not.
For me, I think the litmus for both questions remain the same. Proponents and opponents must still look deep into their souls to ask the question if the other party was of a different race, how would we want this to play out? In Texas, where I live, we send so many men, particularly African American and Hispanics, to prison for crimes they didn’t commit. In all of these cases the men are sentenced based on faulty eyewitness testimony, evidence missing, or mistaken identity. In addition to imprisonment there have been many that have been executed in our state based on these same flaws in our criminal justice system. The juries in this case were asked to convict these men unless there was reasonable doubt that they were indeed innocent. If George Zimmerman were African American I believe the community would want and demand that this same standard applied, and in this case the jurors clearly had doubt about Mr. Zimmerman’s guilt.
In the same tone, we all know and understand that if Mr. Zimmerman was walking down the street with a hoodie on, and Mr. Martin were the one that was told not to get out of the car, the outcome of this trial may have been different. George Zimmerman did indeed pursue Mr. Martin because he was young, male, and African American. All of these attributes convinced him that Trayvon Martin was suspicious and should therefore be watched. His actions after that led to one of the most unnecessary losses of life that our country has ever known.
I suppose what bothers me the most, is that I can’t help but wonder what all of these folks that have shown all of this outrage are going to do differently tomorrow? As someone that moves populations around issues of public policy for a living, I know the difficulty in mobilizing communities of color. It’s sad that participation increases only when issues like the Trayvon Martin murder or the Jena Six incident is the only time African Americans are moved to action.
While the world watched the Zimmerman Trial, the United States House of Representatives voted to remove provisions in a key agricultural bill that would cut the Food Stamp program. In Texas, the legislature made final passage of one of the most important pieces of legislation that would have an effect on all women for generations to come, and limit their access to quality healthcare in their reproductive choices. I didn’t see my friends commenting in volume to any of these types of issues that happen everyday. There is a Trayvon Martin issue happening nationally, in your state, and on your corner every day.
Certainly I would have loved to see Mr. Zimmerman be held responsible for taking the life of another being, as a human, not as an African American. But I also know that I can’ be hypocritical in my cry for justice. Tomorrow is another day, and tomorrow there will be another attack on our civil liberties, our freedoms, and yes even our race. What will you do differently to prevent the next issue from spiraling into a Trayvon Martin injustice? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best when he stated, “An injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere”. I think it’s time to get a head of tomorrow’s injustice.