In a recent article I called for economic sanctions against Florida to compel business and political leaders in that state to change the “Stand Your Ground Law” which provided the basis for the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin. There are times when there is a convergence of ideas, a meeting of minds, such that a particular strategy has the potential to galvanize a movement to achieve a major victory. The idea is not a Ron Daniels idea or Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) call but one that is on the minds of Black people all across the country.
Dr. Patricia Newton, President Emeritus, National Association of Black Psychiatrists was so outraged by the Zimmerman verdict that she cancelled a $1 million dollar contract she was about to sign for a conference in Florida. When I asked an elderly Black professional couple I met at Penn Station in Baltimore [who were returning from a conference in Jacksonville, Florida] whether they would be going back to Florida next year… Before I could get the words out of my mouth, the wife defiantly proclaimed that they discussed the murder of Trayvon Martin at the conference and had already resolved that they would not hold another convention in that state until there is justice in this case! Then music legend Stevie Wonder issued a statement at a concert in Canada proclaiming “until the Stand Your Ground Law is abolished, I will never perform there again.” Since his pronouncement Eddie LeVert, Stephanie Mills, Dionne Warwick and Mary Mary are among the artists who have publicly come out saying they will not perform in Florida until this abhorrent law has changed. While celebrities like Stevie Wonder provide credibility for the Boycott, it will be the actions of the multitude of conscious/committed convention goers, vacationers and consumers that will make the campaign effective. Economic sanctions against Florida is an idea whose time has come.
Just as Katrina ripped the scab off and exposed the raw naked structural/institutional racism in distressed Black neighborhoods in America like those in New Orleans, the murder of Trayvon Martin has ripped the scab off the persistent phenomenon of the criminalization of young Black men, racial profiling, stop-and-frisk and the structural/institutional racism in America’s criminal justice system. The problem is that despite episodic protests and periodic mobilizations, there has not been a persistent sense of urgency in Black America about these issues. The murder of Trayvon Martin may be a decisive turning point.