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Zimmerman’s Fatal Decision and the Unavoidable Reality of Race

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the seriesRACE AND THE KILLING OF TRAYVON MARTIN

DividedHouseUS 

A white man fatally shoots an unarmed black child and race is once again catapulted to the forefront of the American psyche.

Race is not some a stranger. It resides with us as it has for centuries now. Most often, it navigates among the 50 rooms of our union, interacting quietly on a one-on-one basis in the myriad forms. Car door locks clicking as one moves across a walkway. Subtle purse clutching at the sight of an approaching “menace”. The constant barrage of negative imagery directed at blacks that floods our media, with a pitifully inadequate balance of the overwhelmingly ordinary lives that most black people in this country lead in their communities, churches, civil and social organizations, and families.

Race is an ever-present guest in our national house. And when ignored, it eventually finds a way to wake us in the wee hours of the morning with a shout, “I’m here and not going anywhere!

Given its stubborn residency in this house, few are surprised that race now consumes the Zimmerman murder trial. Race sits in the room as we view live feeds from the courtroom. Race is the third person on phone conversations about the fate of Zimmerman. Race clutches the microphone during radio talks shows that fill the ears of anxious listeners in the wee hours of the night. 

Contrary to popular opinion, if we treat this resident as though it does not exist, race will remain as a squatter in our very divided house. As such, we are not only right, but also responsible to exposes our most persistent social stigma that roams these United States without recess.

To be clear, I believe the death of Trayvon Martin was wrongful, vicious, and clearly not the work of God (as Zimmerman suggests) but of evil. And I further believe the the shooting and subsequent events exploit the very legacy of racism that followed our nation from slavery, through black codes, into jim crow, and up to our present times. Many rightfully have concerns that the smirking defendant might go free in a country that views African Americans, and particularly black men, as public enemy #1. 

As of this date, Zimmerman’s fate remains to be seen. However, this series explores a number of issues, questions, hypocrisies, inconsistencies, and problems with the  shooting of Trayvon, Zimmerman’s portrayal of this tragic event, and underlying themes that point to race. We must examine these issues irrespective of the jury’s verdict as they not only vet the case at-hand, but also paint a broader criminal justice system context in which [black] America finds itself.

This discussion is fruitful for all, blacks and non-blacks. Indeed, through this, I pray people of goodwill (of all races) will emerge even more committed to justice.

Series NavigationThe Question of Zimmerman’s So-Called “Wimpiness” >>
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