At first glance, that seems like a really pointless question. We know without a doubt that George Zimmerman pulled the trigger and shot Trayvon Martin. But the question isn’t about a trial verdict. It’s about racial profiling. Was Zimmerman profiling Martin? Of course he was. The question is why?
In spite of how white people are portrayed in the ratings starved media, and by race baiting politicians, I was never taught at any time in my childhood that I was to fear or hate black men. No white person I know in my circle of friends or acquaintances was ever taught this. I cannot name a single person who honestly believes, whether in public or private, that black people, simply by virtue of the color of their skin, are intellectually or morally inferior to whites. Yet, I have to admit, that when I see a black man in baggy pants, and hip hop chains, arrogantly swaggering through the parking lot, I hold my purse closer and quicken my steps to my car or store entrance. If I ask myself why this is, if I truly examine my feelings and ask my self is it only because he is black, I can honestly and without reservation answer no. Why? Because if I saw a white or hispanic kid dressed the same way and displaying the same attitude, I would react the same way because both would seem to be punks looking for trouble. If a saw a black man taking his toddler by the hand and walking across that same parking lot, or a wearing a suit standing on the sidewalk, or walking out of a church, I would have no fear of these men. When my black neighbor, who happens to be a successful business man, has a barbecue in his back yard, I don’t give the black people coming to and from his house a second look, because none of these people look or act threatening in any way. Did I profile these people? Of course I did. Whether we want to admit it or not, all of us, regardless of our race, profile. We all observe the people around us and determine whether or not they are a threat to our safety. George Zimmerman was profiling when he, based on the fact that several crimes in the area had been committed by young black men, felt Trayvon, someone he didn’t recognize as living in the area, was suspicious. Trayvon was profiling when he was suspicious of a “creepy ass cracker” following him. In both cases, both men viewing each other as suspicious, was a reasonable reaction.
Why are young black males so often perceived as a threat? It’s the elephant in the room that nobody wants to name or talk about. It’s the culture of violence so many of them choose to live in. Every Rapper who has ever sung the praises of killing cops, beating women, and stealing from “whitey”, shares the responsibility for Trayvon’s death. Every young black man who thinks raping a woman is “just having a little fun”, and killing someone for his expensive clothes isn’t wrong, it’s evening the score, shares the guilt. Every gang-banger who has ever participated in a drive by shooting, or armed robbery has Trayvon’s blood on his hands. For it wasn’t the color of their skin, it was the words and actions of these people who caused George Zimmerman to view a young black man, his head covered with a hoodie, who was doing nothing wrong and had every right to be there, with suspicion.
We are longing to welcome young black men into society. They are free to become, whatever they dream to be. There are black businessmen, lawyers, and teachers. There are black astronauts, scientists, and neurosurgeons. We have a black President. But are these men, who became successful because they valued education, and hard work, the role models for many young black men? No, they are seen as sellouts and “Uncle Toms”. Instead, many young black men look to gang leaders and drug dealers, people who attain their wealth from committing crimes, as their source of inspiration. This is a truth that the black community has to come to terms with. If they want to protect their sons from being perceived as dangerous, they can no longer ignore it. And no amount of governmental aid, political correctness or white guilt will change it. It is a cultural shift, the black community must achieve for itself. The black community needs to listen to the white perspective without the filter of perceived racism, just as much as the white community needs to listen to them.
In this light, I am proud of the reaction of the Sanford community. Their anger and disappointment at the verdict is understandable, their restraint commendable. The grace and dignity of Trayvon’s parents is an example for us all. Let the healing begin.
- Did Zimmerman Profile Martin – or the Other Way Around? (conservativeread.com)
- It’s Not Just About Trayvon (blogher.com)