What do we do after Zimmerman? Listen to Abuela

In the aftermath of the Zimmerman acquittal, with factions still wounded by the decision, groups still debating what happened, how it happened, what went right, what went wrong, and what it all means for the Americas (white America, black America, brown America, urban America, suburban America, political America, etc., sadly, etc.), it is almost impossible to find The Way.

The Way forward. The Way we progress. The Way we make sense of this country, this grand mosaic that is growing richer in texture and more vibrant in color with each new generation.

Where do we go from Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman? Do we let the fissures this case created widen until they swallow us and all the progress we have made? Do we embrace the decision as a wake up call that there is more work to be done on this great experiment? Do we acknowledge the verdict as the final negation of the lie that Obama’s election ended racism in this country? Do we use it to point fingers, measuring how far short the other side falls, or do we take this golden opportunity to measure ourselves, and see how much further we can grow?

I don’t profess to have the answers. This week, some suggested I don’t even know the questions. I take that as a reason to live another day, see what else there is to learn.

But there has to be something we can do to continue up the mountain. But what? What?

Abuela has the answer.

I saw her on Teaneck Road in Teaneck, NJ, her bright white hair beautifully done, and her royal blue sun dress fresh even in the stifling heat. As cars passed, she raised a simple hand-written sign, black marker on white board, unified to create her message. Three words: “Honk for peace.”

That’s it. A simple request, asking a gesture of unity, an extended hand of quiet wisdom.

Abuela is the answer. She decided to make an effort to reach others. She decided to communicate positively, to start a dialogue. In the heat, the humidity, the blazing sun, she stayed in the game.

I don’t know Abuela, never met her, and I am not sure of her intent. All I know is she lit me up and gave me directions to continue along The Way.

We need to communicate.

We need to keep talking.

My friends Caseen Gaines and Toney Jackson wrote on Facebook that after all of this, all the turmoil and words and anger and differing opinions, they are writing. I see Abuela in them. They know The Way: keep writing, singing, painting, rapping, politicking, patrolling, reading, thinking, learning.

Keep on The Way.

Brothers and sisters, we are our only hope,

Honk, honk.

Christopher Ryan is author of City of Woe, available on Kindle and Nook, and in print. For more info, click here.

About chrisryanwrites

I do my best to tell fast-paced stories with humor and heart. My fiction work is available on amazon.com. Here, I’ll write about the sources for those stories from what I read, watch, listen to, and observe to my experiences as a former award-winning journalist, high school teacher, actor, and producer.
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