A guilty verdict for George Zimmerman is just the beginning. Trayvon Martin suffered two deaths that rainy evening of February 26th. The first death came from the barrel of George Zimmerman’s gun. The second from the Sanford Police department who failed to arrest Zimmerman. There’s a name for the second death: it’s called institutional racism, and in many ways it is far more deadly than the first.
Ramarley Graham, Rekia Boyd, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, DJ Henry, Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin. The list of innocent young blacks killed as a result of institutional racism in this country goes on and on. We can’t bring back Ramarley Graham, Rekia Boyd, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, DJ Henry, Oscar Grant, or Trayvon Martin. Nor can we bring back the 20 innocent children murdered at Sandy Hook elementary school, but what we can do is use our common sense to attack the root causes of these tragedies so that they never happen again.
That’s why I’ve spent the past year turning the Millionhoodies Movement into a full fledged organization not only dedicated to fighting for justice for Trayvon Martin, but for all victims of racial profiling and senseless gun violence. While accountability in individual cases is important, I realized very early on that we must attack the core inequalities in our society if we are to put a stop to the senseless deaths and systemic violence inflicted on people of color every day.
I’m proud to say that Millionhoodies is now a formal non-profit organization with 50,000 members in over a dozen cities across the United States. We are a multiracial alliance of concerned citizens, civil society organizations, and community leaders who are fed up with the unprecedented levels of unrestrained violence directed at young people of color in this country. And while certain individuals have been wasting time criticizing us (there will always be haters), we have been doing the hard work necessary to find innovative solutions to the issue of racial profiling.
Working with groups like InterOccupy, last year Millionhoodies created a new tool to help track and document incidents of police misconduct, violence, and victimization like stop and frisk. Since 2012, we have collected over 2000 incidents of misconduct in New York City alone. I believe that identifying and micro targeting these hot spots of injustice throughout the country will bring us one step closer to eliminating them altogether. But we need funding in order to scale nationally.
Thanks to the folks at Do Something.org, Millionhoodies has been nominated as 1 of 5 finalists up for a $100,000 grand prize at this year’s Do Something Awards, which will be aired live on VH1 on Wednesday, July 31st at 8pm Eastern. If selected, we would use the funds to build an online network of chapters to support and activate our 50,000 members and double our membership to 100,000 by 2015. We would also work to mobilize 5 million Americans around the country to pass common-sense gun reforms in 5 States by 2015. Finally, we would launch a summer camp to provide conflict resolution training and creative empowerment workshops to 5000 young people of color over the next 2 years.
My personal vision for Millionhoodies is to be for gun control what the Truth campaign was against big tobacco. Our philosophy isn’t anti-guns or even anti-gun owners; it’s about protecting our young people in the best way possible.
I’m a humanist and an optimist. I believe justice will be served and George Zimmerman will be found guilty. But just in case he isn’t, Millionhoodies is prepared for the long haul. Are you?
To support Millionhoodies text “DAN” to 38383 and tune in to VH1 on July 31st at 8/7c.