Few media stories are able to spark the nation’s interest like the killing of Trayvon Martin has. On February 26, George Zimmerman shot Trayvon dead. This shooting seems to generate new headlines from many different media sources every day. Reactions have varied but many news sources have unfairly demonized Zimmerman by painting him as some sort of monstrous racist when his motives are so uncertain. I think that it is important to carefully ask whether race was an issue while trying to be fair to the events that the police are certain about.
Trayvon Martin was a teenager on his way back from a grocery store when neighborhood watch captain Zimmerman left his car to confront Trayvon for suspicious behavior. The confrontation got physical and ended with Trayvon dead from a gunshot wound. Zimmerman perhaps only thought that Trayvon was “suspicious” because he was black and also had his hoodie covering his head. I am not going to make claims that the reason Trayvon is dead is solely because of race. Personally, I do think race did play a part, but bear in mind that is my opinion.
The events surrounding the shooting on that night will never be fully known. What is known is that a fight did take place between Trayvon and Zimmerman. There is evidence that Trayvon may have caused Zimmerman to fear for his life; Zimmerman did go to the doctor for a broken nose. But this is only one side of the story. The facts of the altercation are blurred and inconclusive, which leads to the question of why there was an altercation in the first place.
Did Zimmerman get out of his car to pursue Trayvon simply because Trayvon was black? Would he have gotten out of the car to follow Trayvon if he was white? These are important questions to ask. Are we afraid of black males or black people in general? Am I as an individual afraid of black males? The answer for a lot of us is probably in small ways “yes,” even if we don’t want to admit it. Americans and Christians need to admit that racial reconciliation is going poorly in our country.
Being a biracial person, I have faced both sides of racism from blacks and whites. I am not saying that I understand what it is to be white or black because I’m neither. I do know that at separate times in my life I have wished that I could just be either white or black. Because of my race, I am very sensitive to racial issues and racial reconciliation. In the case of the shooting of Trayvon two things must be noted: one life was lost that night and another ruined. Racism affects everyone. We all wake up in the morning and deal with the race we were given. There is nothing we can do to change that, but we can change the way we interact with people who are different from ourselves. Race issues can’t be ignored. When a kid ends up dead for being “suspicious” in the wrong neighborhood, we all have to ask ourselves what our own personal prejudices are and whether our own attempts at racial reconciliation are anywhere near “good enough.”