How Far We’ve Come

by Anton Conkle | March 21, 2012 4:16 am

You can hear the awe and disbelief in the now infamous and chilling 911 calls from residents of Sanford, FL. In essence, they capture the moments in which a 17 year old black teenager, Trayvon Martin, was assassinated.  And the gunman, George Zimmerman, has not even been arrested.

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law says a citizen doesn’t have to retreat before using deadly force against an attacker. This is Zimmerman’s defense. The only problem is, he clearly wasn’t being attacked. The 911 call from Zimmerman himself indicates that he was actively targeting Trayvon, even after the 911 operator told him to refrain from doing so.  When the police arrived on the scene, the 140-lb Martin was carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced-tea. Clearly there is something wrong with this scenario.

Why was Zimmerman tracking Trayvon? Because he looked “suspicious” — meaning black at the wrong place and time. Despite all the progress made over the decades, blacks are constantly reminded of our second-class citizenry. If Trayvon Martin had been white, George Zimmerman would be in custody awaiting trial. To believe otherwise is to knowingly fool yourself.

The fact that Zimmerman is still a free man perfectly echoes the issue and mistrust that the black community has with law enforcement.  Everyone is supposed to be protected or at least feel like they are being protected.  But when a young black teenager is gunned down in cold blood, you can see why segments of our community harbor a deep mistrust of law enforcement.

To say that I thought we were past this point in American culture is a stretch for me.  I wanted to believe it, but being a young black male has and always will mark me as a target of suspicion.  But maybe, just maybe, Trayvon Martin can spark a much needed dialogue to address and begin to rectify this pervasion of injustice in our country.

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