Here are some views written for CNN on the "not guilty' verdict in George Zimmerman's trial on charges of the murder of Trayvon Martin.
Omarosa: We whose loved ones were killed despair
The George Zimmerman "not guilty" verdict hit me very hard. I, like many Americans, watched the trial very closely, hoping that justice would be served in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. I was not prepared for my deep emotional response to this shocking outcome.
Last year I rallied with other families, who like mine, had lost a loved one to gun violence. I joined the Rev. Al Sharpton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Trayvon Martin's family in Los Angeles. I connected instantly with Sabrina Fulton, Trayvon's mother, bonded by grief. I shared the story of my brother's murder during the rally to show the Martin family was not alone in their struggle or despair.
My brother Jack Thomas Manigault Jr. was shot and killed in cold blood on October 11, 2011. He was in his bed sleeping when a 22-year-old man forced his way into his home and killed him. What followed was a year-long bout with the judicial system. On April 24, 2012, on the eve of the murder trial, my family and I made the difficult decision to accept a plea deal from the defense. When faced with the daunting decision of whether to put my family and my brother's four sons through a very public trial, I opted not to.
My lawyer warned me because my brother was African American and his assailant white, the trial would be judged through a racial prism. My brother was not perfect, but Jack had been working to turn his life around. I was cautioned that my brother would have his character and past called into question and anything he had done as a young man could and would be used to justify his fate.
At times I questioned my decision to accept a plea deal. The judge assured my brother's killer, who pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and other charges, that a conviction at trial would have netted him a harsher sentence than one negotiated by prosecutors and defense attorneys. It was the risk that we as a family took to protect my brother from being characterized as just another black male fatality.
Sabrina Fulton stands for all of the mothers and families who have to face the painful reality that we may never find peace or justice in this judicial system for our loved ones. We should use this moment to examine the system that at times, like now, leaves many of us shocked and dismayed. I hope and pray that some day things will get better.
Omarosa O. Manigault is assistant pastor at Weller Street Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles and former reality TV star.
Rice: Trayvon was killed for being young, male and black
Black men and boys are conditioned to be invisible. Our visibility scares folk. It scares white people and many "respectable" black people, too. It scared George Zimmerman. And George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin because of his fear, and because of the cowardice at the core of his special type of being afraid.
Trayvon Martin was profiled on the night he was killed. There is little room for debate here. And on Saturday night, six jurors in Sanford, Florida indicated that it is all right to think a 17-year-old black boy is a threat just for being who he is. It is OK to shoot him through the heart, to end his life. It is legal to do it. It is justified, even if that black young man is an innocent, a child packing a beverage and a pack of candy. That mistake gets a pass.
Novelist Ralph Ellison explained so precisely, "They see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination -- indeed, everything and anything except me." This is the every day reality of being a black man. We all know it, even if it's just deep down and covered up. Nonetheless, we go along with the disjointed dance of democracy and justice for all.
We know that black men and boys are understood to be a threat. Trayvon Martin and his family, and those who more squarely fit feared stereotypes, deserve justice. Fear of "them," of me, fear of my son, is a psycho-social distance bred from insecurity and has nothing to do with the "other."
"What are you without racism?" Toni Morrison asked Charlie Rose some years ago in an interview. We do well to follow her inquiries. "Are you any good? Are you still strong, still smart? Do you still like yourself?"
A knock-knock joke at the opening for the defense and the not-guilty verdict at the end show the level of respect that the Florida judicial system afforded Trayvon Martin's life. This is the racism that black boys and men consistently negotiate. Our lives, clearly, depend on negotiating it well. Those who argue counter are simply ignorant of the deeply embedded institutional and cultural racism here in the U.S.
Now comes the work that many of us are ready to undertake, or to recommit to. The work to be visible -- to step beyond the easy stereotypes that we play to and the ones that society affixes to us.
The work is beginning. Social media messages. Rallies on Sunday in New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and other cities across the country demonstrate the momentum of feeling against the terrible wrong of the Martin case, a wrong that threatens the liberties of us all.
-- David Rice is associate professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at Morehouse College.
LZ Granderson: Trayvon could have been my son
Hours before the George Zimmerman not-guilty verdict was announced, my partner and I were discussing ways to prevent our 16-year-old son from getting shot while jogging in the upper-middle-class, predominantly white neighborhood we had recently moved into.
I promise you, it was a very real conversation.
"Maybe we should get T-shirts and sweatshirts with the school's name on it," my partner said.
After the verdict -- it came as a punch to the stomach -- we thought maybe it was best if he only ran inside at the nearby gym.
This is what it means to be a parent of a young black man in America today: sleepless nights, courtesy of a cocktail of institutional racism, self-inflicted wounds and statistics.