Am I the only person who found Bill Northrop’s Sunday commentary article on the George Zimmerman trial to be highly contradictory?
In describing the events that unfolded the night Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, Northrop himself refers to Martin’s race several times, stating that Martin was walking through a neighborhood that had been plagued by burglaries committed by blacks, that there had been a history of black crime in the neighborhood and he concedes that Zimmerman was profiling Martin. Here’s a thought: if you can’t describe the case in a way that doesn’t make race a factor in your argument that race isn’t a factor, maybe that’s because race is a factor.
Northrop doesn’t explicitly state why he brings race up in these ways, but does so in the context of explaining Zimmerman’s actions, implying that it is understandable that Zimmerman found Martin suspicious and decided to pursue him given the backdrop of black crime in the area. In doing so, Northrop implies that if it weren’t for Martin’s race, Zimmerman might never have followed him and Martin might be alive today. Well, statistics show that there is a backdrop of black crime in the United States as a whole. Following Northrop’s statements, is it therefore understandable for anyone in our country to find any black man suspicious and pursue him? And if these actions result in an altercation that doesn’t go the pursuer’s way, is it understandable that the pursuer kill the suspicious, but potentially innocent, black man in self-defense?
According to the court’s ruling, it appears that such actions are at least legal in Florida. Northrop states that he doesn’t like what ifs, but the fact is that court rulings set a precedent for others and send a message to our citizens. They tell us what is right and wrong in the eyes of the law. And the precedent and message this ruling sent is so alarming and outrageous to so many black families for very good reason.
President Obama said that this case shows that we need to talk about our racial biases, not declare that color is irrelevant, as Northrop does. The fact is that we hold racial biases and stereotypes, and, in this case, those biases led to an innocent teen’s death. That is the real crime that has gone unpunished. It is only by facing up to these biases that we can hope to avoid such tragedies in the future.