July 22, 2013
The recent acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin has sent shock waves around the country and world.
Some claim it is a victory for justice, others believe it is a miscarriage of justice.
Was the killing of Trayvon a murder or was it self-defense? I do not know because I was not present when it happened. I did not attend the court proceedings nor spent hundreds of hours watching television covering this tragedy. Therefore I believe, that I am not entitled to an opinion because I simply do not have all the facts. The jury came to the conclusion that they had reasonable doubt that he was not guilty of murder and therefore had to acquit him. That is the law.
It is quite evident that race did play a role both in the altercation and its tragic outcome as well as in the debate that is raging now following the not guilty verdict.
It also seems clear to me that there was some profiling done by George Zimmerman vis-à-vis Trayvon Martin and vice versa. Their respective (recorded) use of expletives about each other attested to it.
How could it be otherwise? We all do it! We “profile” or stereotype, consciously or unconsciously anyone that is somehow different from who we are, whether it is someone of a different gender, age, race, religion or ethnicity.
Richard Gabriel, the president of the American Society of Trial Consultants Foundation wrote in his article published by CNN, Race, bias and the Zimmerman jury:
“So, despite our noble desire to love our fellow man, we are all suspicious of “The Other” - in this case, the young man in a hoodie in the rain. Whether that figures comes in the form of a black teenager, a gay co-worker, the Muslim neighbor, the overweight teacher, the barista with the tattoos and piercing or, yes, even the gun owner, we all have biases. And yet most of us will never admit we have them, placing our own Gandhi-like bias-free self-image on a pillar of fairness and equity.”
Stereotyping is an expression of prejudice and we know that prejudice has led to all kinds of evil throughout history.
We need to remember that a prejudice make abstraction of the simple fact that each one of us is unique.
As the sociologist Margaret Mead once wrote:
“Instead of being presented with stereotypes by age, sex, color, class, or religion, children must have the opportunity to learn that within each range, some people are loathsome and some are delightful.”