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On Boycotting Florida in Reaction to George Zimmerman’s Not Guilty Verdict

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On Saturday night around 10 p.m. like most of you, I was devastated when I learned that George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the killing of teen Trayvon Martin. I was angry, but I was also in shock. What a miscarriage of justice? But thanks to my Bay Area roots, my anger motivates me to not just feel but act. If my life has no meaning in Florida – and neither do my votes apparently –  then why should I spend my money in that state? This leads me to one of my first tweets on Saturday:

Then there was Sanford, Florida Mayor Jeff Triplett. In the moments after the verdict came down, my fiance and I watched MSNBC’s coverage of the crowd outside of the courthouse in Sanford, which included an awkward interview with the town’s mayor, Jeff Triplett. To paraphrase, Triplett was asked something like ‘What do you want people who have never been to Sanford to know about your town?’ to which he said something like ‘There are a lot of mom and pop shops down here, come down here and check us out.’

I don’t know about you but Triplett’s response sounded like an off-handed publicity spiel at what could not have been a worse moment. The interview took place literally moments after Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges despite shooting a black teen in cold blood and you want me to visit the town housing the “peers” that said black life was worthless? Stop it. Then I tweeted:

If you’re not familiar with Jasper County, Texas and the case of 44-year-old James Byrd, he was a black man who was dragged until he died by a Ku Klux Klan member Lawrence Russell Brewer with John William King and Shawn Berry in 1998. The threesome fought with Byrd, slit his throat, sprayed his face with black paint and chained him by the ankles to the back of a pickup truck. The trio then dragged him for three and a half miles until he was decapitated Yes, you read that right, this all happened the year you probably graduated from high school. To me, Sanford Mayor Triplett saying ‘Come down here and check us out’ sounds like an invite to a macabre racial injustice tour that I do not want to attend. And that got me thinking, rioting is meaningful historically, Americans recently commemorated the L.A. Riots following the not guilty verdict of the police caught on tape beating Rodney King, but it’s been the financial protests, like the Montgomery Bus Boycott, that have been most beneficial. What not boycott Florida? We’ve talked about ethical tourism here on Parlour before because your travel dollars might be supporting a dictator who’s harming his own people or the tip you think you’re giving may never reach the pockets of those who need it most. And now, we turn that questioning eye toward Florida.

Financially restraining yourself from spending your tourism dollars in that state would be unprecedented in contemporary America. Pulling back the purse strings would definitely send a message to their state government, if they like receiving the money that funds their businesses, perhaps they should re-access their laws and actions concerning minorities and poor people. Obviously, that means black folks would have to pull back on black beach weekend in Miami, no more NBA All-Star Weekend if MIA is next up, no Disney World for the kids, and the list goes on. A friend made a joke, ‘What if all of the rappers boycotted Liv?’ I laughed, and said ‘What if all of Cash Money and MMG’s artists ditched Miami for Atlanta?’ But seriously what about boycotting Florida? Think about it.

Last 5 posts by Hillary Crosley