– L. Arthalia Cravin
Here we go again, talking about race. But how can we not talk about race when a 17-year old black boy, who was unarmed except for a bag of Skittles and a soft drink, was shot in the chest by a 28-year old man carrying a 9 millimeter hand gun? Was Trayvon Martin killed because of his race or his skin color? When the 28-year old shooter, George Zimmerman, described as either white or Hispanic, called 911 and said: “There’s a real suspicious guy. This guy looks like he’s up to no good, on drugs or something…. These a***holes always get away,” what exactly made him arrive at these conclusions? Even more, what did Zimmerman feel that he had the authority to the person having the description he gave? After 911 told Zimmerman not to follow the young man, and he did so anyway, then confronted him and shot him in the chest, how can race not be viewed as having some bearing on Zimmerman’s decision to shoot to kill?
The FBI has now entered the case to investigate the circumstances of the killing of Trayvon Martin? But from a historical perspective, some things seem patently clear. There is a history of shooting black men, for either standing their grounds in the face of “authority” or being shot in the back, for resisting or fleeing “authority.” For a black man, of almost any age, the choice of fight or flight has produced the same outcome too many times—that outcome being shot to death by individuals who later claim that they were in some type of fear. What was the choice for Trayvon Martin?
What we are now finding out is that Trayvon was on the cell phone with a girlfriend and told her that he was being followed by a strange man. Did Trayvon feel fear from the stranger following him? I suspect he did. I suspect that Trayvon just wanted to hurry up and get to where he was going to escape some strange man’s aggressive actions in the name of “neighborhood watch.” But instead of focusing on Trayvon Martin’s fear, it seems that the Florida police first focused on Zimmerman’s claim that he was in some type of fear of Trayvon that led to him pulling out a 9 millimeter gun and shooting Trayvon to death. Zimmerman weighed 250 pounds, Trayvon weighed 180 pounds, yet Zimmerman is now claiming “self defense.” So far Zimmerman’s “flipping the script” to blame the deceased victim is working because he has not been arrested. Maybe what Zimmerman is really claiming is protection for his hot-headed, wannabe cop, trigger happy, racist attitude.
There are many questions to be answered about Zimmerman’s actions such as why would a neighborhood watch participant be armed with a 9 millimeter gun? When the so-called captains rotate, was this gun passed on to others for their “free-wheeling” use? Was their any type of history of crime or confrontations within the “zone of protection” that warranted neighborhood watch participants carrying deadly weapons? From what I know of neighborhood watch programs their primary purpose is to notify police of suspicious activity and not for neighborhood watch participants to shoot first and ask questions later.
Many questions will be asked and answered in the coming weeks about the killing of Trayvon Martin. Trayvon’s parents want justice for their son’s death and not a “whitewash” or cover-up. It should bring Trayvon’s parents some comfort that one-half million Americans of all races are demanding that Zimmerman be arrested and tried for the killing of their son. These voices will not bring their precious son back. But if there is any comfort from the outraged being expressed across this country about Zimmerman’s actions, we hope that Trayvon’s parents will know that they are not alone in their pain, their outrage, and their grief.
Copyright 2012 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.