The “not guilty” verdict in the George Zimmerman trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin has revealed gaping holes and massive fissures in our nation, much to the shock of many. All this in 2013, and with a black president at that?
At times like this, both sides tend to become more polarized, which makes things even worse. Instead, we need to step back, take a deep breath, and listen to each other, recognizing that all of us have blind spots and all of us, to one extent or another, are products of our environment and upbringing.
Here is a typical, polarized conversation between the pro-Trayvon and pro-Zimmerman camps, labeled here A and B.
A: “Once again, an African American is deprived of justice. How many more times must this happen before things change? A black teenager on his way home from the store with Skittles is shot dead by an overzealous community watchdog. A jury with 5 white women and one Hispanic woman exonerates the killer so he can walk away scot free. This is 21st century America? This is justice?”
B: “Justice? What are you talking about? George Zimmerman acted in self-defense when he was assaulted by a strong young man who had a checkered past. His head was being bashed on the concrete. He was fighting for his life – and if not for illegitimate pressure from an overreaching government, no charges would have ever been pressed. As it is, justice was served, even by an all-female jury who would have likely leaned towards the young victim.”
A: “What? Are you blind? Do you honestly believe that if a white (or even light Hispanic) teenager was shot dead by a black ‘watchdog’ zealot – really, a failed, wannabe cop – that the police wouldn’t have arrested him on the spot? That charges wouldn’t have been filed against him? That this wouldn’t have been another cause cèlébre pointing to the horrors of alleged black on white violence? What world are you living in? And how dare you make Trayvon Martin into some kind of criminal.”
B: “You’ve got to be kidding me. The proportion of black on white violence dwarfs any white on black violence, but the reason you don’t hear about it is because of the glaring bias of the media. Blacks killing whites in cold blood isn’t big news. But now, with a black president who has a chip on his shoulder and a racially motivated Attorney General, not to mention the Al Sharptons of this world, this case is being used to open old wounds and deepen race divisions in our nation. That’s what liberals do. That’s how they advance their agenda.”
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.