Friday's Barbershop Show: Will Trayvon Martin launch new racial justice movement?

The death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teenager shot by a leader of a neighborhood watch group, almost went down in history as another black youth fatally shot, with a killer never brought to justice.

But the heartbreaking details of the case – the 17-year-old Florida teenager was holding only a pack of skittles and a can of ice tea when he was killed by an assailant who has been identified as George Zimmerman but not yet arrested or charged – have brought national and international attention to the town about 20 miles north of Orlando.

Late Thursday afternoon, Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee temporarily stepped down amid a growing investigation involving state and federal officials. Wednesday, the town council passed a non-confidence vote against the chief.

The fact that Martin’s mere presence as a young black man drew sufficient suspicion to result in his death is something many communities of color are familiar with, says Claudia Garcia-Rojas, a contributing writer for Gozamos and a social justice activist in Chicago.

Garcia-Rojas will be a guest on the Chicago Reporter’s Barbershop Show Friday to discuss Martin’s murder.

The anger around the case has opened a much-needed discussion about race in our society, says Garcia-Rojas, and it may even be a catalyst for a bigger movement focused on racial justice.

“People say racism is not an issue anymore,” said Garcia-Rojas, “but then you have a black kid walking in this neighborhood where he looks out of place,” and he ends up being shot. “This speaks to the argument that people of color continue to make – that racism still exists, and we don’t live in a post-racial society.”

A march in New York was attended by hundreds of people (see photos here), and three events around Trayvon’s case are planned for Chicago over the weekend.

“People are definitely talking. That’s a start, and that’s the biggest thing,” she continued. “We need to build a movement again that sort of speaks to racial issues, because we haven’t had that since the 1970’s, and that’s really necessary.”

Tune in to the The Barbershop Show – on Friday at 12pm, on Vocalo 89.5FM. Until then, leave your comments below or tweet them to us @chicagoreporter.


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  • We need to address the issue of reverse racism, as well. This is a very real issue in our society. A 13-year-old boy was doused with gasoline and lit on fire by two teenagers who followed him, and then attacked him. This was a racist hate crime, as these boys were black and the victim was white. They said, "This is what you deserve. You get what you deserve, white boy." Others in business are being discriminated against because they are not black. I was one of those. Let's cover both sides of this coin.

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