Monday, July 15, 2013

Race, Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman

The acquittal of George Zimmerman revealed that six women (five of whom are white) had reasonable doubt whether Zimmerman had violated Florida’s stand-your-ground law in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
But the case reveals how differently Americans view life through the prism of race.  
I get the outrage that many of my friends have expressed by the verdict.  They see Zimmerman’s acquittal as another case in a long history of African-Americans or other people of color being killed without justice being served.   They rightfully argue that Martin would not have been approached by Zimmerman if Trayvon’s skin color was white.  Gun violence disproportionally affects African-Americans and most African-American males experience some sort of racial profiling in their lifetimes.
I can also understand how many of my friends see the verdict as an act of justice.  They believe that George Zimmerman was attacked by Trayvon Martin and that Zimmerman’s actions were justified under Florida law as self-defense.
I have no idea which of the two characters in this sad drama attacked first or who was in danger.  The ultimate reality is one young man is dead and a large number of Americans believe that justice was not served.
Race heightened this drama.  If this was a white-on-white crime or a black-on-black crime most of us wouldn’t have paid attention. 
Besides revealing how Americans are divided on race, the case also shares how America is a violent nation.  Eighty five lives are taken daily as a result of gun violence which means that almost 43,000 people have died since Trayvon Martin died on February 26, 2012. 
Each of these deaths is a tragedy.  If anything may all of us, especially those of us in the church, re-commit ourselves to creating the peaceable community that God desires from us.

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