Jay-Z Hopes Trayvon Martin Doc Will Change ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws

By Sameer Rao Jul 30, 2018

Both Trayvon Martin‘s mother Sybrina Fulton and Shawn "Jay-Z " Carter want "Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story" to tell the true story about the racism that killed the 17-year-old in 2012.

“I hope people walk away knowing who Trayvon Martin really was,” Fulton told The New York Times yesterday (July 29) about the docuseries she produced with Carter. “I want people to walk away having a clear view of what this country is about right now, and not what they thought it is."

Fulton spoke to The Times for an article that featured a short Q&A with Jay-Z about the docuseries and his growing activism. "Rest in Power," which premieres on BET and Paramount Network tonight (July 30), also looks at how George Zimmerman exonerated himself through stand-your-ground laws and by drawing on racist stereotypes to justify the killing as self-defense. Furthermore, it delves into how the killing and trial fueled both the Black Lives Matter movement and White nationalist sympathy for Zimmerman. 

"I think it was the pendulum swinging back from [Barack] Obama being president,"Jay-Z said about the open racism that aided Zimmerman’s case. "I feel like it was festering and I think the Obama administration just brought those frustrations to another place where people can spread the propaganda of hate."

Jay-Z, like Fulton, hopes the docuseries will teach viewers about the structures that enable White assailants to get away with killing and demonizing Black victims. That includes "stand your ground" laws, which allow defendants to claim self-defense against murder or manslaughter charges. Critics have argued that these policies empower assailants’ Second Amendment rights over Black victims’ lives. Jay-Z agreed, saying that the practice denies justice to the deceased and their families: 


This law, we have to get people to understand what it says. Of course, he will not be found guilty. It’s very difficult to be found guilty with this law as it stands today.


The system doesn’t work as it exists today. No one wants to talk about that because it’s as if you are bashing police officers. I’m not bashing police officers. I’m just saying the facts do not support this being the answer, the system as it stands today.

Read more of Jay-Z’s comments on "Rest in Power" and celebrity activism at NYTimes.com, and watch the docuseries’ first episode on BET and Paramount Network at 10 p.m. EST tonight.