Picture in your mind a teenage boy walking along, hood up, talking on his cell phone. Do you see him? Now imagine that he is black. Does that change your view of him? Does he seem suspicious now? Would you shy away from him in passing? Seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking home from a convenience store in Sanford, Florida when he was killed by self-appointed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman. Zimmerman reported Martin as suspicious in a 911 call. Allegedly Zimmerman got out of his car and confronted Martin, and within the hour Martin was shot dead. Was it murder or was it self-defense, as Zimmerman claims? Nobody knows except for Zimmerman and Martin, and young Martin can’t tell his story.
With Days of Diversity only recently ending, I can’t help but think how race played a part in Martin’s killing. According to CNN, in the last six years Zimmerman has made 46 emergency calls reporting what he considers to be something suspicious or unsettling. He often called to report suspects, the vast majority of them being young black men.
Would Martin have been shot if he were white?
We have seen a pattern again and again throughout history, with Oscar Grant, Emmett Till, Sean Bell, and Tim Stansbury. Each time the name is replaced and the face changes, but still the same color is targeted; maybe a little darker or lighter, but still black. These boys are gunned down, beaten, murdered because they are black. Some of these boys had criminal records, some of them did not, but none of them were armed and none of them deserved to be killed.
And Martin? He was armed with Skittles and iced tea. So make sure you watch out.
If everyone were to think like this we’d have no more young black men left. It is unacceptable to judge someone on their appearance, but especially by their race. I am ashamed to live in such a “developed and educated” country where a boy can be gunned down for the color of his skin. I am ashamed to live in such a country where slavery has been abolished and segregation eradicated, yet racist mindsets are still so incredibly omnipresent.