Get Bitter or Get Better: Moving Forward after Trayvon {Living Outside the Stacks}I, like many people, sat glued to my seat as the verdict was read. Not guilty. Another black boy’s life snuffed out. Not guilty. Black lives are worthless. Not guilty. Skittles and a hoodie can get you murdered. Not guilty. Unless your skin is black.

Whether we agree with the verdict or not, it is what it is. We can’t change that. But we can change where we go from here; we can get bitter or we can get better. Bitterness is easy. All it requires is for us to wallow in self pity, to lay down the victim card, to riot and react with violence, to throw our hands up and stop caring, to look at our young black boys and confirm what society has ingrained in them from the beginning of time: that they’re worthless.

But getting better… Oh, that requires work. Work that begins at home, with parents who love and support each other {even when they’re no longer together}. It requires that parents encourage their children to pick up books and learn to read, write, and speak properly. It requires that parents stop recording their kids “twerking” and start recording them participating in spelling bees and graduating from high school. It requires that parents look at the struggles of the past and determine that their children will be more and do more with their lives.

Getting better requires that we look at our culture that celebrates drugs, the denigration of women, and the glorification of violence and expect more. How can we expect other people to value our lives when we don’t? Where is the outrage when a black child is killed by another black child? When we start to care about ourselves as much as we expect other’s to, then and only then will we see change. We need to show them that we are more than stereotypes and internet memes.

Don’t let Trayvon’s death be in vain. Don’t let the deaths of thousands of others before him be in vain.

Do better. Be better.

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