A battle of racial proportions

Not guilty. By now everyone has become amazingly familiar with those words following the verdict by a jury to acquit George Zimmerman of second-degree murder. I am not outraged, nor am I pleased by the verdict. I am, however, horrified and disgusted at some of the reactions.

The day after the verdict was announced, I jumped online and was greeted with pictures of demonstrators in Seminole County. Some crying, some holding signs demanding “Justice for Trayvon,” and some shouting. I was expecting this, and was not at all surprised. However, I still wish this hadn’t been the aftermath.

When the verdict was returned I was in Northwest Indiana, only an hour away from Chicago and a short drive away from the murder capital of the country (and luckily more well known for the birthplace of singer Michael Jackson) Gary, IN. My question is why is the first name Trayvon as well known, if not more, as the name Homer? And why do I still not remember the name of a 4-year-old black girl who was killed in a shooting only three days ago? There are days when in Southside Chicago alone there are 40 or more shootings. All those victims get is a compiled story in the middle of a newspaper. Just one teenager, the same age as many who die in gang fights in cities around the world, somehow managed to capture the attention of the whole nation? That seems a bit backwards to me.

By now, after evidence has surfaced and is easily accessible by anyone who can type in a Google search bar, I was hoping to have seen some coverage that included Zimmerman’s wounds, or a more timely picture of Martin rather than one taken two or three years before his death. But no, the media, in general, showed the two side by side. One was of Martin wearing a hoodie and looking like he was about to have one of the coolest profile pictures on Facebook, which was taken over a year before the shooting. The other is Zimmerman’s mugshot after the encounter where he looks like an experienced felon. Side by side, it is easy to be outraged by the whole thing, which is one reason I am agitated about this whole ordeal. I feel like the media failed in getting facts out without a bias against Zimmerman. The jury was given three weeks’ worth of evidence to make the decision that Zimmerman was not guilty, which is about three weeks’ worth that the average American doesn’t have.

So on to racial profiling. It is really everywhere, and it is hard to avoid stereotypes. Rappers drop the “n-word” more than Huckleberry Finn, and comedians slam every race and sex with a barrage of race-centered jokes. But a Hispanic man (his mother being from Peru and his father an American) decides to follow a black teenager through the streets of a gated community where he is the watch captain is considered racist? OK, maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. I’m not even concerned about that because by now people have established their own opinion and I’m not giving either side support. I am concerned because as a security guard, if someone is out of bed in the middle of the night walking about, it is the guard’s job to ask that person what his business is. It was a gated community, and they often have rules that can include curfews. I don’t think it was unreasonable to follow a teenager in the middle of the night. I’d be wary of someone of any age walking around in a hoodie at night, I don’t care what the race is.

Here’s what I think was wrong. He followed him; he didn’t directly approach him to hear Martin explain, “Oh, sorry, I was headed back from the gas station with Skittles and some iced tea.” Instead he followed him. If I were Martin I would have been concerned that some random person was following me, making it understandable that he attacked Zimmerman. I don’t see why Zimmerman couldn’t have pushed off Martin and detained him, but considering his head was being hit, which I personally believe after seeing the pictures of Zimmerman when he was taken into custody, I can imagine that it would have been hard to fight back well. I don’t think Martin was trying to kill him, and using a gun to resolve it is unforgivable. He took a young man’s life away, and for that I would never try to defend him. I’m just aggravated by the way that this is turning into a race-centered case rather than the self-defense case that the jury debated on.

Coverage was huge in this case. A Hispanic man killed an unarmed black teenager. Even if the whole thing was race, look at the gang fights in Los Angeles and Miami. Blacks and Hispanics kill each other daily. And no one seems to care. That’s what bothers me. No one seems to help those people, yet for just one case the Martin family seems to have an army of supporters. There have been riots already, and people have gotten hurt. “Justice for Trayvon.” Well, I say justice for those who have been injured in riots in this young man’s name. Justice for those who die in city streets and whose killers are never pursued. Justice for those who have died because they were another race. If people want to make a difference and feel like racial profiling is the issue, drop the protests and find ways to help cut down racial fighting. Don’t make it worse by focusing in on this one instance. And to the media, please give better coverage to those who die in similar cases. I see it as insulting to those victims whose names are exempt from news stories.

My deepest condolences go out to the Martin family for the loss of their son. I hope they can become a figurehead that can help stop racial profiling and I also hope that they denounce those who seek violence as a means of justice.