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Who Really Stood His Ground?

A portion of America was going to be passionately disappointed by the Trayvon Martin verdict whenever and whichever way it came down. What strikes me is that every parent wants their child to be cautious but also to stand up for themselves. If Trayvon Martin was visiting with his father in his father's fiancée's neighborhood and ultimately stood up to George Zimmerman who had been following him, how was he wrong? Who, having a Black, White, Hispanic or gay child, wouldn't have been proud of their child for standing up to someone who was pursuing them? Yet, many are acting as if Martin was at fault. I do not think or believe that Zimmerman was / is a cold blooded killer (it wasn't premeditated), but it saddens and stuns me that many are celebrating his acquittal in the face of his wrongly accosting / approaching / instigating (whatever you want to call it) an altercation with a young man who was in his parent's friend's neighborhood. Ask yourself, if your child was visiting you in your neighborhood and someone had profiled and followed them, and then when your child responded in defense of himself—even violently—and was killed for that, would you feel it justice to allow that instigator to walk away?

Some are saying or implying (to put it mildly) that Black people are only interested in this case because a Black child was killed. Some believe that a significant segment of the support George Zimmerman has received is not due to any actual belief in his innocence, but it is a reaction against African Americans for supporting Trayvon Martin. My belief is that African Americans are not interested in this case only because Martin was Black—they are invested in this case because he was Black. This is because in America's glorious, and yet complicated history; there have been innumerable instances when African Americans, in altercations with Whites, have been killed for no reason and especially when they have made the awful mistake of fighting back. Yes, I'll state the obvious many African Americans, I believe, are thinking, "If Trayvon Martin had been a young White boy and a Black man had accosted /approached / instigated and shot this boy after he had chosen to confront him..." would this verdict have been different or would it have even come to trial? Many African Americans, I believe, think not. I think not. I believe that the Black man would quickly have been incarcerated, convicted, and sentenced to either life without parole or death and that would have been the end of it.


Yes, when you're the head of a research department that studies the injustices wrought by slavery and legalized race based prejudice perpetuated and supported for over four hundred years, it is hard to look at the Trayvon Martin case and feel completely fine with it. It is hard to feel completely fine with the benign call for forgiveness of Paula Deen admitting that she used nigger 27 years ago. While I actually applaud her for her honesty, I am certainly not surprised that she said it; I wonder about the 27 year ago defense…if she called an African American a nigger 20 years ago, or 10 or 15, or last week, would it be wrong then or are African Americans, now, in general, just supposed to get over it? I'm not happy with young Black rappers using nigger either, but if you can't acknowledge the extra charged level of it being used by a White person about a Black person, then you have blissfully not been paying attention…but that discussion is for another blog.

The full acquittal on July 13, 2013 of George Zimmerman brings up sad, complicated memories. In our history there are also innumerable examples of harmonious race relations. I pray that, somehow, more honest discussions may arise from this event, rather than more strongly entrenched positions of anger, fear and divisiveness.

Chris Haley - 7/13/2013 11:49 PM

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