I could write about the Trayvon Martin verdict, whether Zimmerman was guilty, or innocent. I could write about how the lawyers hated each other, or how the system was rigged to convict Trayvon for his own death. I could also write about how it’s totally unacceptable for us to convict someone without a fair trial. Actually, yeah, I’ll write about the latter. (Warning: I’m going to be brutally honest and state that I dislike using the term ‘African American.’ We’re all equal Americans who deserved to be treated equally.)
I’ll never understand what it’s like to be a minority everywhere I go. My chances for being racially targeted as a suspect are much lower than that of someone such as Trayvon Martin. I know that, and you know that. I’ve noticed that from the black community, the major problem they see (and it’s a problem I recognize as well) is that many young black men are commonly targeted as suspects for crimes they did not commit. Could Trayvon have committed some sort of crime before his encounter with Zimmerman? That’s possible, but not yet proven. All we know is that either A.) Zimmerman was innocent or B.) There was not enough evidence to convict him of murder.
That’s all we know. It doesn’t mean Zimmerman is 100% innocent, but it also means he’s likely not guilty. It’s important to remember that. All we know is that the justice system that was put in place generations beforehand, and is currently maintained by the people found Zimmerman not guilty of committing a crime when he shot Trayvon Martin.
The bigger problem is the elephant in all of our rooms, and that’s our general disdain for justice when it is delivered in ways we don’t expect. That disdain has a way of distorting our attitudes…and our ability to reason. See, we have no problem when our presupposition in any case is to make one party guilty until proven innocent. We prosecute them as individuals and as a society before any fair trial. Because of this, neither side won in the Zimmerman trial: the gorge between the two sides only grew further.
The problem with the media and the crowd that has prosecuted Zimmerman based upon his race is that they ignore the thousands of black on black murders that happen across the country every year. They ignore the fact that only 7% of the African Americans who were murdered, were killed by white perpetrators. The other 93% of murders occurred at the hands of other blacks. The opposition made their ruling from day one, through race. “The Race Hustlers,” as my friend C.L. Bryant calls the mainstream media, have spent the past year polarizing the nation with their believed racism over every issue of the case… and have succeeded. Riots have taken place in Los Angeles and Oakland almost every day since the verdict was handed down. Why? Because the justice that was delivered opposed what the public mob demanded. The mob and the media (one in the same at this point) demanded that Zimmerman be prosecuted for murder before his trial ever went under way.
Does that mean that the anti-Zimmerman crowd does not have a point? No, they have a point that I think pro-Zimmerman crowds need to understand. There are thousands of cases of racial pro-filing that go on every year in America. That it is a serious issue. I’ll never fully understand it, but folks like Jesse Washington who will have to give a special ‘talk’ to their young teen sons about the color of the skin and what it means to other people do understand.
The issue of racial profiling is a big issue in this country and it’s one that should be discussed and tackled. But it’s not one for the media to take sides on, or for race baiters to capitalize on. It’s a problem that can only be fixed by first fixing the hearts of individual Americans.
The bigger problem, the one we should be the most concerned about regardless of which side you are on, is that while this specific case had cloudy evidence Zimmerman was still a victim of the media and the mob. It was the racial presuppositions and racial lenses that were reenforced by Hollywood that all but ruined this man’s life. This is the problem because it now means that the media can now socially convict someone of murder without a fair trial. How does that help this issue?
Newsflash: it doesn’t. Tell me, will Hollywood and the media push the same type of campaign against the thousands of black murderers who have killed other blacks? Or are those somehow OK? Will they do the same for all of those who die in Chicago because of corrupt city officials putting them in harms way? Or is that OK too? Will they continue to label Hispanics as whites in order to guilt whites? Or is even that still OK?
Newsflash for those who are rioting for “justice”: If the media could do this to George Zimmerman, they could easily do it to you. Just ask the Tea Party. They’re on your side, at least for now.
To solve this problem of intense racial division, we need resilience, trust, flexibility and the ability to reason with each other. The main thing standing in our way is undeniably the media.
Tanner Brumbarger | @brumbarger