I Am George Zimmerman

I Am George Zimmerman

It is impossible to consume news over the past week without hearing about the tragic case of Trayvon Martin, the young man who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Florida .

The case has sparked protests and calls for the immediate arrest and prosecution of Zimmerman, who to this point is free and not charged with any wrongdoing.

I was deeply troubled when I first read about the incident.  A young man, Trayvon Martin, is walking to his father's fiancee's house in a gated community when he is confronted by George Zimmerman, who ignored a 911 dispatcher's instructions to wait for police.

George Zimmerman called 911 to report a "suspicious person."

The sequence of events after the 911 call is unclear pending further police investigation.  What is clear is that one life is ended, another forever changed.

No arrests were made, as Florida is one of many states with a "stand your ground" law, which allows the use of deadly force in cases where people feel threatened.

In the aftermath, people are angry, outraged, justifiably so.

And in discussing this with my wife she helped me realize another undeniable truth:

Outrage feels good.

Outrage gives us the opportunity to harness and control something beyond our reach and channel our beliefs into the prevailing narrative.

So people are outraged.

Outraged that a young man is killed and there is a lack of due process.

Outraged at "stand your ground" laws, the NRA and lack of gun control.

Outraged that Trayvon Martin makes national headlines while Americans seem desensitized to hundreds of people dying on violent city streets.

Outraged at the insidiousness of prejudice and racism.

Because George Zimmerman never met Trayvon Martin and had no prior knowledge of him it's reasonable to believe Martin was "suspicious" to Zimmerman because a) he was black, b) he was wearing a hoodie or c) both.

We have since heard that Zimmerman, who is part hispanic, spent time mentoring minority kids and had many minority friends, or something to that effect.

If this is true it is especially sad, because in that case Zimmerman's life experiences did little to cleanse him of prejudice and the tendency to profile.

None of us is without prejudice, something we are loathe to admit.

Americans got wrapped up in the notion that electing Barack Obama transformed us as a nation into a "post-racial" society.

The notion of a post-racial society is a myth.

Instead ours is a society where, particularly since 9/11, we are told at every turn to "report suspicious people and behavior."   How ironic that the very sense of security such measures are intended to instill often leave us vulnerable and grasping at stereotypes.

The sight of protesters chanting "We are Trayvon" resonated with me yet sadly, collectively, we are more like George Zimmerman.

Last week President Obama said, "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon."

My only son turns 14 next month.  He likes his jeans a little big, slumps from time to time and wears hoodies, the union card for today's teens.

He's a great kid, but entering high school means he is also on the verge of full blown "knuckleheadom."  He has, he will, take risks and make mistakes.   As his Dad I want that.

But he will always be my little boy, running through the park as a toddler without worries, without blinders, without prejudice.

I am saddened for Trayvon Martin's family.  I am saddened for all of us.


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Filed under: crime, politics



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  • Good read Bill!

  • In reply to RatedPG:

    Thanks Paul

  • I stumbled upon your article and I'm so glad that I did. Such a great read and perspective! Thanks for sharing!

  • In reply to Kay S:

    Thank you!

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    You have mirrored my stance on this. I feel the media fans the flames of fear and then fuels the always inflammatory topic of racism once our fears lead to unfortunate and reactionary behavior. We are a product of our current state of insecurity.

  • In reply to John Keckich:

    John thank you for reading. There are certainly many emotional layers to the story, and I do believe we all need to take a hard look at our own prejudices, including those in the public eye eager to speculate through their own prism.

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