Firstly, let me give you my take on the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case. An unfortunate tragedy that should have been avoided. It’s a woulda, shoulda, coulda situation that ultimately cost a young man his life. However, based on the case presented, a not guilty verdict was inevitable. The prosecution had nothing to present that showed that George Zimmerman was the aggressor outside of his stupid decisions to pursue Trayvon, which were not illegal and not considered a legally contributing factor to a crime. It does appear from the evidence that at some point, Trayvon became the aggressor and that led up to the fatal shot. What we do not know is what, if anything, George did to provoke that confrontation. However, because there was no evidence or witness to testify to that, and because George was the only one injured (other than the fatal shot), the evidence pointed to a confrontation by Trayvon that lead to the shot. And, the not guilty verdict. Like it or not, this was a legal case decided on legal grounds, not a moral case and, in spite of all the rhetoric, not a race case.
My thinking is that George Zimmerman would have done the same thing to anyone he did not recognize in his neighborhood, not just a black teenager with a hoodie. The fact that other black young men had already been caught in the neighborhood, stealing from homes, is an interesting fact, but not necessarily the only causation to George’s actions.
Unfortunately, the grief-stricken parents, fueled by the usual race-baiting professionals and opportunistic lawyers, tried to promote the case as strictly a race case and were aided by the news media in that effort. I do not blame the parents. They lost a son in a horrible way, wanted justice, and so allowed these professionals to co-opt the situation for their own benefit. There was even an attempt to show that George Zimmerman used the N-word on one of the 911 tapes but that quickly fell by the wayside as it was a bogus claim. And, NBC altered those same tapes to make it sound as though George Zimmerman told the 911 operator Trayvon was black when he was just answering a question from him and even said he wasn’t sure at the time.
Again a sad case unto itself and a clear demonstration that there continues to be a race problem in America. However, what exactly is the problem of which we speak?
The Justice System
Clearly, the justice system has a race problem from the police to the prosecutors to the jurors. Young black men are more likely to go to jail and for longer terms than any other group. Our jails and prisons are disproportionately filled with African-American males. Now, do they commit a disproportionate number of crimes? They might, but it is probably more of an economic problem than a race problem. Because the great majority of crime is committed by those on the lower end of the economic spectrum. Nevertheless, there appears to be a prejudice against blacks in our justice system. Check out the case of Melissa Alexander of Florida here. She got 20 years and she didn’t even kill anyone.
The Economic System
Clearly, the economic system in this country favors those with money, those with education and those with initiative. So part of the problem is focused on what to do to help those at the lower end improve themselves to the point where crime is not an answer to an economic problem? It’s a chicken and the egg scenario. The jobless rate among African-American young man is 3 or 4 times the national rate because they lack the skills to get a job or they are discriminated against. Sure, we are all heart-warmed by the poor, disadvantaged person, regardless of color, who pulls themselves up by the bootstraps, overcomes all odds and becomes successful in spite of everything. We ask ourselves, “Why can’t others do that?” Well, some do, but it just isn’t that easy. Generations of being poor does something to most people’s drive and initiative.
On the other hand, some will say we’ve created a generation of takers with government handouts and little to no requirement to improve oneself. And, in some cases, we have. But I was always of the belief that no one really wants to live like that, They just cannot see a way out. The rich just keep getting richer, the poor, poorer.
The African-American Community
I think that with the all finger pointing to white America as the source of the race problem by the professional race baiters, they cannot see that some of the blame lies within the African-American community itself. The problem of the breakup of the family, out of wedlock births, no fathers in the home, and overall lack of morality (which is an issue in all ethnic groups) has hit the African-American community especially hard. And those same leaders not only seem to ignore the problem, they both do nothing about it and criticize anyone who points it out. Young black boys and girls need positive role models, who don’t drink and do drugs, commit crimes, just hang out, play sports, or perform music with objectionable lyrics to show them and teach them to become a positive force in their own communities.The other thing missing is the influence of the churches, not only in the Black community, but all communities. There was a time when spiritual leaders were an aid to the family in helping teach moral principles. Either the breakdown of the family or the turn away from religion has rendered that now pretty useless.
The cycle must be broken. Ironically, in the era of segregation, families were stronger, fathers were around and leading their families and, while they were treated deplorably by some white communities, in some ways they were better off. Now that things are supposed to be better, some appear worse off.
So if it takes the Zimmerman case to finally have a reasonable conversation about race relations, then maybe it is a good thing. To hang all the problems on this one case is a mistake. It may be a problem with the laws in Florida.
However, all sides must come to the conversation with equal culpability and equal responsibility to try to solve the problems. Finger pointing and blame will not get us anywhere.