Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman…What Happened?
I was going to remain silent on the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case. Why? Because I was unable to watch the entire trial and figured for this reason, I should not give an opinion. But in watching some of the events unfold around the nation as a result of the verdict, I felt compelled to at least add some measure of insight in the hope that reason can prevail.
First, let me clarify that I do not have an informed opinion at this point, as I did not see the complete trial. Of course, that simply makes me more like most of those offering an opinion than even I care to admit. But facts are facts. Which brings me to the trial and the reason for this post.
Anybody Here, Seen My Old Friend Martin?
The title I chose because it reminds us of the song, a line of which asks, “Anybody here, seen my old friend Martin?” It was a song of Civil Rights and that noble struggle. It was a song that reminded us of the sacrifices for that cause made by both whites and blacks. The song is about John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. I mention it because for some odd reason, Blacks in America often forget that there were just as many white folks fighting alongside them and continue to this day.
I recently saw where the African-American community is fairly divided on whether the Martin/Zimmerman case was racially-motivated or not. My gut says it was, but I cannot see into the heart of George Zimmerman. The reason my gut instinct say racism is because even if Zimmerman had been a police officer, he would have had no probable cause to follow the man. So why follow? Martin looked suspicious? Why?
Was Trayvon Martin Acting Suspicious?
In catching President Obama’s reaction, I was touched for the first time in his two terms. When he first ran, I was not a supporter but recognized that he had the seeds of greatness within him. I wondered how he would handle the job and watching him cower to his political opponents in recent years has made me wonder. But his speech on this issue was excellent. It was from the heart and it was poignant. I have seen him bite his lip at times when seeing the extreme opposition he receives as the Commander-in-Chief. Indeed, he spoke as if he no longer is the brunt of racism because of his position, but the evidence seems to indicate otherwise–those who oppose him the most are also the most racially outspoken (and not in a good way). And while our President did shine a light on the issue from the perspective of a Black man, he failed to consider the full picture.
Martin may have looked suspicious to Zimmerman because he was a young man out past a certain hour. Any young person out walking at that hour would look suspicious–EXCEPT in the African America community. I have lived in such communities and know that late hours at night are not unusual to be going to the store for anything. And in poor communities, things (food especially) tend to run out at odd hours, regardless of race. If you need bandaids for your little sister at One in the morning, guess where your’re going to get them? The store. And if you happen to be too poor to afford a car, guess how your’re going to get there? Walk.
This was perfectly normal behavior, but to George Zimmerman, who clearly did not understand the community in which he was, this was strange behavior. So really, there WAS profiling, but not necessarily racial. Zimmerman was economically profiling.
The Rise of Economic Profiling
I have seen much of this in recent years. I see far too often police and others profile people, but not really by race, but rather because they are poor. We must come to face some facts in America–the once wealthy nation is becoming a pit of poverty. Poor people have very different habits from those in middle income. In fact, middle income people have habits which appear odd to the very wealthy.
The real issue in the Zimmerman/Martin case was that Zimmerman DID profile, but his profiling was a result of the economic disparity. That aside, why did the verdict go as it did?
More than likely because Zimmerman had the cuts on his head and the testimony of a witness (also black) who stated Martin was on top of Zimmerman beating his head against the concrete. That would certainly indicate self-defense. And had this been a case of Zimmerman just strolling down the street and getting jumped, I may agree with that assessment.
But the fact is that Zimmerman instigated the situation by following for no good reason, then apparantely mishandled it further, then panicked. Because this would have never happened had Zimmerman not been economically profiling Martin, Zimmerman is ultimately responsible. From what I did see of the trial, the only reason the verdict went as it did was because the Prosecution didn’t seem to care. Hmm, maybe it was racial?