Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Perspectives on Trayvon and George: What Just Happened in America?

August 23, 2013 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( Trayvon Martin will forever remain seventeen and George Zimmerman will remain a free man.  The blunt impact of these emotionally-charged finalities on the American soul has elicited discordant sighs of both grief and relief—dependent upon the one doing the sighing.

A well-known proverb among prize fighters is, “every fighter has a game plan until they get hit in the face.” In our nation’s nearly fifty year struggle for racial harmony, we had a game plan.  The plan was “a colorblind society.” Then the face of our nation was unceremoniously hit by Martin’s premature death and Zimmerman’s controversial trial.  Our game plan was derailed. Suddenly we see color!  Or perhaps many of us saw color all along and this woeful affair shocked us into a state of unpleasant introspection and brutal honesty.

Who would’ve ever thought that a self-appointed neighborhood watchmanMarvinRodgers pointing a flashlight at a Skittle-toting teenage pedestrian would ultimately shine an ugly and annoying light on the festering reality of racial tension in America?  The reactionary tribalism that developed in the wake of that night’s fatal altercation has forced all of us to temper our feel-good “we’ve come so far statements” with a sober-minded “we have quite a ways to go” realization.  It seems that the miles traveled between 1964 and 2013 on America’s racial harmony odometer were either misread or overstated.  

The nuance of a Hispanic man killing a young black male was replaced by the perceived narrative of a white man killing a black man.  The notion that “perception is reality” rivals the law of gravity in terms of stubbornness.  The moment that altercation between Martin and Zimmerman became colorized was the moment their situation became pressurized by the lingering and latent force of America’s not-so-distant racist past.

Our country is a nation of people and a nation of laws.  And alas, the intersection of humanity and legality in America has indeed proven to be prone to collision.  As the Zimmerman Case heated to a boiling point, it was disillusioning to see our nation splinter like opposing medieval cavalries fleeing to their respective trenches of “due justice for Trayvon’s death” on the one hand, and of “due process of law for George’s acquittal” on the other.

Furthermore, skin color suddenly became the jerseys as many members of the dueling teams proportionately (and predictably) broke down along the lines of black and white hue.  And on top of that there was the political ideological warfare too.  The Left blamed the legal system. The Right blamed the media.

Arguments have been impassioned on both sides.  But it’s impossible to declare a winner in a blame game resulting from the tragic loss of a young life.  Only the balm of time will soothe our nation’s soul. But as healing as time may be, that prescription will not suffice to soothe the souls of Martin’s loving parents.  Their prescription can only be our heartfelt prayers.

As socially microcosmic as this episode has become, the reality is that none of us could have controlled the decisions made by two men on a sidewalk that fateful night in Florida.  But even so, we exercise control over the decisions we make on the sidewalks we travel every day and every night.  If we emerge from this sad chapter less willing to demonize and quarrel and more inclined to communicate and love, we will at least have wrested a morsel of positivity from the jaws of this senseless tragedy.

Staff Writer; Marvin D. Rogers

Also connect with this brother via Twitter; M. Drogers.




One Response to “Perspectives on Trayvon and George: What Just Happened in America?”
  1. Anne says:

    At 17, Trayvon Martin was NOT a man, and George Zimmerman was 28 at the time, which made him 11 years older. An 11-year age difference either way is a big deal when we are 17, in spite of the attempts of Zimmerman’s defenders to draw false equivalencies between the perpetrator and the victim in order to rationalize this senseless murder. Since there are whites who are just as outraged as we are at the murder itself, the piss poor excuse for an investigation by the Sanford PD which allowed this man to go home strictly on his word alone, and the sickening miscarriage of justice resulting from the trial, it’s simplistic to make such a sweeping generalization of white folks in this issue. The case HAS shone an unflattering light on the existence of racism in this country, and also what happens when a criminal is given every benefit of the doubt due to his father’s connections with the legal system as well as the defendant’s friendship with the police department in Sanford. Another aspect that has been spotlighted is the fact that someone can get a record of confrontational violence expunged and be able to obtain guns, also because of his father’s connections. It’s worth remembering also that it took 44 days for George Zimmerman to be arrested and charged, and that happened only because people of all races protested. The Sanford PD is famous for marginalizing crimes involving black victims, and they thought they were going to do it this time. The preferential treatment George Zimmerman got even extended to getting a slap on the wrist even after his wife perjured herself in court by lying and saying they were indigent. This was in spite of the huge amount of money they had from donations by his supporters. They were caught talking about moving that money to an account of hers while he was briefly imprisoned. The truth of the matter is that not even most everyday white folks get that much preferential treatment, even though they get more benefit of the doubt than black folks do. So, the case reinforced racial divisions, it also showed that there are white folks who get it and those who don’t.

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