By now, I’m sure many of you have heard about the Trayvon Martin incident. For those of you who haven’t, last month, Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer named George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman thought the teenager, who was walking back to his dad’s fiancé’s house after visiting a convenience store, looked suspicious. As Zimmerman called the police, he began to follow Trayvon, even though he was told by the dispatcher not to.
Eventually, he approached Trayvon, and an altercation occurred and ended with Trayvon dead. Zimmerman claims Trayvon attacked him and he shot the teenager in self-defense, Zimmerman was not arrested.
On the 911 tapes, someone can be heard crying for help, there is much debate whether it is Zimmerman or Martin.
Let me just say, I have tried writing this opinion piece twice in the past few weeks, and it is now that I feel that I can do so as a journalist, without including my personal bias and opinion as a African-American man. Like many, when I first heard the story, I immediately assumed race had something to do with it. Trayvon Martin was an unarmed, young African-American male walking around in a gated community and was shot by a man who is Hispanic.
I, like many, instantly thought racism was a factor. But as more details have been revealed, I have personally challenged myself to keep an open mind about the situation.
While it is a disheartening fact, racism and racial profiling do exist, even among minorities. I’m not saying that these were definite factors, but it is definitely a possibility that they were. If this is the first time you’re hearing about this, I strongly encourage you take the time to research and formulate your own opinion about this.
Anytime any human being is taken from this earth because of a slight misunderstanding, it is tragic and something to be mourned by all. The harsh truth is that Zimmerman had every right to report anyone he thought was suspicious walking around in the neighborhood, just like Trayvon had every right to be walking through the neighborhood to get to his destination.
I can only hope that this situation will cause others, to think twice before they make attempt to take justice into their own hands.