Thursday, July 4, 2013

Not MY Son

As I watch bits and pieces of the trial of George Zimmerman in the shooting and death of Trayvon Martin, I can't help but imagine what this case would be like if this 16-year-old had been a white boy.

Like my son.

Here is a boy dressed in a way that would be weird for an adult but not for a teenager.  He is walking around this neighborhood, and honestly, if he was not black, would anyone have questioned what he was doing there?  So let's supposed he is white and walking around at -- for god's sake, 7 p.m.

Enter George Zimmerman, a wannabe cop, who makes all those racial assumptions about a black boy in his neighborhood and decides he needs to be followed.

Again, imagine this is my white 16-year-old son.  He realizes he is being followed.  He keeps walking but becomes ever more conscious that that is indeed what is happening.  He begins to get scared.  Trayvon Martin knows what can happen to a young African-American male that has wandered into the path of an angry and/or paranoid white man.  My son might have been oblivious of being followed for some time.  He might have imagined that this couldn't be happening, that it was his imagination.

But at some point, when the unknown man continues to follow him, my son would become frightened.  He would try to contact someone.  He would almost certainly refer to the person following him as crazy, followed by any other descriptive obscenity, which would emphasize his fear.  When this nightmare continues, he realizes a full-blown panic and decides that he has to fight back.

In other words, my son, and Trayvon Martin, would stand their ground.  Unarmed, they would use the weapon they have, and physically attack the stalker.  And under Florida law, they would be in the right.

Unfortunately, he who carries the gun has lived to tell the tale.  And if Trayvon had been a white youth, it is unlikely that the defense attorney would be mocking the young black woman who was the nearest thing to a witness for Trayvon, and pretending not to understand what she is saying in an effort to emphasize that she -- and therefore Trayvon -- are not like the members of the jury.

Of course, had it been a white youth killed that day, it would not likely have taken nearly six weeks for his attacker to be charged.

But here we are.  The paranoid, angry and power hungry man who stalked an innocent young black boy, who refused to heed the police officer on the phone who told him to step down and stop his pursuit, is the one who is seen as "standing his ground."

Let's all step outside of the hype and media circus, and imagine this scenario with our own teenager, walking down the road, and being stalked by an unknown man.

I wonder if, in this angry and paranoid decade, the jury will be able to give, not Zimmerman, but Trayvon Martin, a fair trial.

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