I keep thinking that there is one point the Sanford, Florida police department apparently has not fully considered: that if George Zimmerman had not followed Trayvon Martin, and had not exited his vehicle to approach the young man, Trayvon would be alive today.
It still feels like Trayvon was standing his ground. He was being followed by, and then approached by someone he did not know, who had a gun. It is reasonable to believe that the young man, frightened, defended himself against what he thought was a sure and present danger.
How come that possibility has seemingly not been advanced by the police department? In all the press conferences I have seen, not once have I seen the police say that they are considering that possibility as well.
What we have, why this case has brought out so much rage, is another example of what appears to be the willingness on the part of law enforcement to devalue the life of a young African-American– again. Florida and indeed many states have a long history of injustice when it has come to incidents involving whites and blacks, with white people being given the benefit of the doubt and being let free. Black people have historically been discarded, devalued, as it were, and there is a sense of rage based on a history of injustice.
Isabel Wilkerson, author of the book The Warmth of Other Suns, wrote an excellent piece for CNN yesterday, describing the historical wrongs done as concerns whites and blacks as concerns crime committed and justice served or not served. That injustice, or the fear of injustice, prompted many African-Americans to leave the South, to migrate to the North and to the Midwest, in search of jobs, surely, but also in search for a place where they might get more justice.
That has not necessarily been the case, and everyone who is an African-American knows it. The fact that George Zimmerman has not been arrested, and the apparent fact that the possibility that Trayvon Martin could very well have been standing his ground, promotes anger that comes from an historical reality. It is not at all surprising that details about Trayvon’s apparent multiple suspensions from school, and about how traces of marijuana were found in his book bag. There has to be a reason for what Zimmerman did and how he did it; how better to do that than to create an image of a troubled, violence-prone teen?
But in spite of whatever details about Trayvon are released, it still doesn’t assuage the anger of people who are wondering why – again – it feels like a white man will get away with killing an African-American. The details about Trayvon do not erase the apparent fact that the young man was apparently approached by Zimmerman, in spite of the fact that he had been told not to do that. The details do not justify Zimmerman getting out of his car and apparently approaching Trayvon.
Something is wrong here, and lots of people know it.
A candid observation…