When Racism Kills
Trayvon Martin was an African American high school junior who loved football, music and spending time with his father. Martin was known by friends and loved ones as a kind and loving soul with a contagious smile and sense of humor. On February 26th in Sanford, Florida, Martin went out to get an iced tea and a package of Skittles for his soon-to-be step brother wearing a hoodie and listening to music. On this typical, innocent Sunday evening, Trayvon Martin was shot and slain by volunteer neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman. Zimmerman claims Martin started a fight with him and that Zimmerman fired his gun out of self-defense.
Impossible; anyone who knew Martin knew that allegations of his attacking Zimmerman hold no truth whatsoever. As soon as the media caught wind of the case, the current state of racism in our nation was put into question. No proof that Martin attacked Zimmerman in any way exists and yet authority has yet to arrest Zimmerman for the murder of the 17-year-old. Following the murder, Martin was tested for drugs and alcohol, Zimmerman however was not. A white man kills a black kid and runs free. It was not until a shocking forty-five days later that Zimmerman was finally charged with second-degree murder. With regards to how far racism has come in the last century, America still exists in turmoil.
Countless politicians and celebrities have voiced their outrage and support in the Trayvon Martin case. President Barack Obama calls the shooting and tragedy and promised to get to the bottom of the case no matter what. He later added, “”When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids.” The Miami Heat basketball team showed their support by being photographed in hoodies similar to what Martin wore on the night of his death.
The cruelty murder of Trayvon Martin has been deeply felt nationwide and especially here in the metro-Detroit area. But in the case of Detroit, the Martin case represents much more than just the murder of a black boy by a white man. Countless shootings of African American youth take place each year in this city that go without the recognition and outcry of support that Martin received. Detroit Free Press Opinions writer recently asked this of readers: “Does combatting racial stereotypes – which is about fighting one of the black community’s external foes – command an easier mental and emotional response than confronting the demons that exist between and among African Americans?” He does not mean to let George Zimmerman off the hook for his actions, but rather to remind America that we are simultaneously fighting two extremely difficult battles: one of racism itself and one of our country’s dismissal of violence due to commonality.
Lahser senior Collin Malcolm shared his thoughts on what the murder of Trayvon Martin means to him: “It means that I could have been Trayvon. I am that black kid who doesn’t belong in a predominately white community. What can we do? People deny racism exists however I and many others at Lahser are victims of it every day. I guess everyone who feels discriminated against needs to speak up without a fear of being abused mentally or physically.”