The story of Trayvon Martin is as tragic as it is all too familiar. An unarmed Florida black teen who is deemed “suspicious” is pursued, confronted and fatally shot by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain.
It’s later determined that the 17-year-old victim, Martin, had only a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea in his possession when he was fatally shot by George Zimmerman who was packing a 9mm handgun.
Recently-released 911 calls of the night of the shocking incident, revealed that Zimmerman was apparently the aggressor who was pursuing the teen.
To say a conjecture based on race did not prompt this senseless shooting is foolish. Zimmerman may not hold the same beliefs of a run-of-the-mill racist but its clear if Martin was white, the outcome would have been strikingly different.
Would Zimmerman have even approached a white Trayvon Martin? I find it hard to believe that he would.
Over the years, racism in America has become increasingly covert to the point that people hesitate to call it what it is. Just two months ago, New Haven Mayor Joe Maturo exposed himself as a byproduct of a generation desensitized to blatant racism, when he told a TV reporter his outreach plans to the Latin community involved “eating tacos.”
It is mentalities like those that perpetuate a dysfunctional world where stereotypes are celebrated and racism is a norm.
Despite different outcomes, Maturo’s thought process mirrors that of Zimmerman’s, driving the so-called “neighborhood watch captain” to pursue and confront a black teen that he assumed was up to no good. That night, Martin unfortunately fit the mold of what Zimmerman thought of “no-good”: black and hooded.
If there is any take-away lesson from the Trayvon Martin tragedy it’s that racism is alive and well in this world. Parents, teachers, the media all have a responsibility to address the dangers of racial stereotypes and spend time identifying it when it surfaces.
Have we really made any progress in race relations? Ask the family of Trayvon Martin, or Sean Bell or Amadou Diallo.