First, an expression of deep sorrow and sympathy for the family and friends of Trayvon Martin. It is important to acknowledge that while we sit and debate about the trial of his murderer, a mother is without her son, a friend without his companion.
Trayvon’s death was a horrific tragedy, and to say that this whole case has nothing to do with race insults Trayvon’s memory and minimizes the underlying issue in our society.
There has always been a bias in this country towards people of other races. Many may have denied its existence after the time black people became equal in the eyes of the law. More people still may truly in their hearts know that they consider all individuals equal, no matter what color.
While I applaud those who have moved past this centuries-old bias that began at the time of slavery, it is still evident that it exists.
It exists in our politics, in our daily interactions, and worst of all, in our courts.
The existence of bias in courts, is certainly the most alarming. One of the merits of the American justice system is that every citizen, no matter gender, color, religion, etc, is supposed to be equal in the eyes of the law. If only this promise had been kept.
Individuals of color are three times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop than whites, according to the Department of Justice.
The Human Rights Watch reveals that although people of color are no more likely to commit drug-related crimes than white citizens, they are more likely to be arrested for drug charges.
For identical crimes, convicted black citizens are given 10% longer prison sentences than convicted whites, as stated by the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
In spite of the fact that this discrimination is clear to anyone who looks at the facts, it is hardly an issue that is front and center in the mind of the public. And this, my friends, is the problem. We are virtually ignoring the very problem that continually ensures the ability of people like George Zimmerman to be let off easily. All the while, people like Trayvon Martin are racially profiled and murdered or left in prison longer than necessary.
Out of all of you readers out there, how many of you have thought about what the outcome of the George Zimmerman case might have been if George Zimmerman was black, and Trayvon Martin was white? An armed black person against a tiny unarmed white person? Case open and shut. African-American people have a false social stigma which leads some to believe that all or most of blacks are violent criminals.
It’s like “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee all over again. In the words of Atticus Finch, “The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box.” (Ch. 23)
Well put Atticus. The court is designed in the way of giving everyone a “square deal” but it doesn’t carry out that ultimate promise. Why? It is run by humans. And humans hold biases. No matter how much they deny it, tangible biases exist. It may be difficult to pin point exactly who may have them, but it doesn’t matter. Enough people have them to the point where we are seeing results that are devastating to people of color.
The court system favors white people. Period.
So those who believe that George Zimmerman’s hate towards Trayvon had nothing to do with the fact that he was black, and that George Zimmerman’s acquittal had nothing to do with the fact that he was white, are dead wrong.