Trayvon Martin’s Death is a human issue
I think many people are surprised that there is still so much outrage over the death of teenager Travyon Martin. Martin was killed by George Zimmerman in Florida in February of 2012 and the initial shock and anger surrounding the death concerned racial profiling. Zimmerman, a Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer, shot African-American Trayvon Martin in what he claimed was self-defense. Zimmerman did so after he reported that Martin attacked him and began to viciously beat him. Witnesses came forth during the altercation, but none thus far have reported seeing how the fight began, or, if they are, the media is not reporting this information prior to trial. Trayvon cannot defend himself, but what is known is that he was wandering the neighborhood while talking on his cell phone to his girlfriend and clutching a bag of skittles candy. He was unarmed. Zimmerman was not on volunteer duty that evening but had suspicion regarding Trayvon’s activity in the neighborhood. It has not been stated fully as to why he was carrying a gun that evening. It may be true that Zimmerman was attacked by Trayvon after looking up an address to notify police of Trayvon’s suspicious presence. It was reported that Zimmerman notified dispatch and was told to stay away from Trayvon. It is not known how Trayvon came to be near Zimmerman, if Zimmerman provoked him, or if Trayvon’s use of mixed martial arts and Zimmerman’s defensive wounds were due to Trayvon feeling threatened by him.
There are a lot of questions surrounding this story and the longer it drags on, the more we find out and the less obvious the answers are in this case.
Here is what I know: Trayvon Martin’s death is not a racial issue. Trayvon Martin’s death is a human issue. If George Zimmerman killed this 17-year-old for any other reason than self-defense there is a bigger problem than someone who needs some self-awareness training as well as understanding and empathy for others. In order to hurt someone like that, you must have hate in your heart for another person. If Trayvon attacked Zimmerman with the intent to harm him and possibly kill him, knowing that skills in mixed martial arts can do so, there must be hate in his heart for another person. One way or another, there was something terribly wrong here.
I’m not naive enough to believe that we can “heal the world,” not that it’s not a lovely idea. I do believe that this case reinforces the idea that hate does not discriminate. It is more about the person feeling the hate than the person to whom the hate is directed and if that person can hate someone because of their race, then that person can turn that malice on anyone.
If we know that this is still a human issue and that it hasn’t gone away, what do we intend to do about it?
We can make George Zimmerman an example, but what if he wasn’t the perpetrator? We can make Trayvon Martin into a thug, but what if he wasn’t? I believe justice needs to be served, but there is a bigger picture here and we are spending a lot of time focusing on the wrong things. There is a lot of righteous upset going on in many communities and I think what I question most is what those communities are doing to release that hate and anger instead of inflating it with further anger towards other races, classes, communities, etc.
When you buy into the mentality of hatred, you are furthering the cycle of exactly what has happened in this case.