There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you – Maya Angelou

Archive for July, 2013

Zimmerman, Martin and Racism

Over the last few days I have read post after post on the case of Zimmerman and Martin and how this has become an issue of racism.  I have not actually read the news stories on this, so forgive me if I have the facts mixed up, but from what I have picked up from the posts, Zimmerman and Martin somehow ended up in a fist fight.  Zimmerman ended up retreating to his vehicle, where he was advised to remain.  But instead of following instructions, he took it upon himself to grab his gun, exit his vehicle and shoot Martin.  If, in fact, this is what happened, this is plainly and simply a matter of a man, who in the heat of the moment, shot and killed an unarmed man – not in self defense.  And I believe he should have received prison time for his actions.  But, he did not.  He was set free.  There are a good many people across our nation, for many reasons who are angered by this and feel justice has not been served.  I am one of them. 

The story above is explained without talking about race.  It is about two angry men, one of whom ends up dead.  And this is what the foundation of this story is.  But, as with all stories, there are details that “color” the story (pun not intended).  If we add in the fact that Martin is a black man and Zimmerman is white/Hispanic, then the story takes on new meaning in our society.  Ah, this story is about racism.  And truly, this is what most of the posts I have read have been about.  The accusation is that Zimmerman was let go because of White privilege.  Martin, the dead man, apparently was not entirely innocent because he had a history of violence, perhaps even a rap sheet, and he allegedly attacked Zimmerman first.  So, the victim in this case, became the aggressor.  Some people thought he deserved what he got.  Even if Martin is guilty of all of these things, Zimmerman had still retreated to the safety of his car.  At this point, the story could have turned out very differently.  Martin could have been charged with assault.  But, then it would still be a story about racism wouldn’t it?

You see, regardless of the outcome in these two scenarios, it is a story about racism.  But what if Martin and Zimmerman were the same race?  There would be no racial argument.  So, why is there now?  Is this truly a story about racism or is it a story about injustice?  What exactly did go wrong in that courtroom?  Why in today’s society do we assume it is about race? 

I think it is because racism is alive and well in our country.  We would like to believe we overcame it, but we still have people who cling to it.  Some white people still want to hate anyone who is not white, and some black people (and others) are racist against the white people.  It really is a shame we have all this hatred.  Imagine what we could accomplish as a society if we just let go of all this hatred and just started working together.   But, I think that is still far off. 

Whether the Zimmerman-Martin case is about racism or not, I think Zimmerman should have gotten prison time.  He got out of his vehicle against advice and shot a man resulting in his death.  This is an intentional act.  If people can go to prison for accidentally killing someone, then Zimmerman should certainly have gone to prison.

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