Trayvon Martin is not around to tell his side of the story. George Zimmerman is. Will it matter? Maybe. Perhaps it will not. But there is one sure thing that will be counted on to happen at the conclusion of the state of Florida’s murder trial stacked up against Zimmerman.
One side of the argument coin will feel elation. The losing side in this high-profile criminal case will no doubt feel a deep sense of pain and heartache in the immediate aftermath. The nation, however, will feel the weight of this case a lot longer.
In some ways, it already has. The case has even the president chiming in his thoughts on the shooting death of the 17-year-old black boy. Race has everything to do with this case. In fact, race will be the No. 1 key element in the courtroom drama that will either set Zimmerman free or find him guilty of murder.
Martin was black. Zimmerman is half- white, half Hispanic. Zimmerman is a fully grown man with a growing girth. Martin was just a kid, a teenager walking home to his father’s house from the store when he came face-to-face with Zimmerman before his young life was snuffed out.
Since then race hysteria has reigned over the state of Florida and caught the attention of Americans. But that is nothing compared to what could happen once Zimmerman’s trial finally come to an end. Perhaps not since the not guilty verdict in the O.J. Simpson murder case has this nation been divided over the outcome of a criminal matter.
The Simpson judgment bitterly divided the country along racial lines after the NFL Hall of Fame running back was acquitted of double murder in the deaths of his ex-wife Nicole and Ronald Goldman. There are no celebrities associated with the Zimmerman murder trial. But race is as much a sticking point in this case as it was during the Simpson trial.
The glare and publicity surrounding Simpson had a lot to do with his status as a star athlete and Hollywood celebrity (Hertz Rental Car commercials, Airplane movie series and Roots) as it did with race since the two victims were white. The Martin-Zimmerman fallout has clearly been identified with race.
Most African Americans see the case as clear-cut: Martin is just another example of a young black man gunned down with zero to very little accountability for the perpetrator. The only reason why Zimmerman has to dance to the music of his actions is because the black community as well as others rallied in protest over the killing to have Zimmerman arrested.
Zimmerman had actually gone about his business of living before the walls of justice came tumbling down on him. Race and arrogance had a lot to do with Zimmerman walking around free as a bird as he acted like he had just got rid of some public nuisance or something.
But what goes around will eventually come back around.
Zimmerman, by his own actions, used his trump card as a white man as illogic reasoning to stalk someone like they were prey, put fear into his victim by chasing after him and then end the chase with a 9mm bullet ripping through Martin’s chest.
Zimmerman and his attorneys are hoping this case will not be settled along the race premise. In all likelihood it will be-said or unsaid. Written or unwritten, race is the defacto swing vote in this case.
It is also could be the detonator to an explosive summer of racial tensions. The timing of Zimmerman’s criminal trial, which begins earnestly a year after the neighborhood patrol volunteer allegedly stalked, confronted and mistook Martin as a criminal before killing him, could further heightened racial matters in this country.
A SUMMER OF TENSION
Good or bad, right or wrong, the U.S. Supreme Court’s anticipated rulings this month on affirmative action and the legality of the Voting Rights Act, will have an indirect impact on Zimmerman’s case. The basis of affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act, metaphors that eventually became law, served as the great equalizer for blacks in gaining steps of equality.
Expect a riotous uproar from African Americans and other minorities if these two acts that leveled the field in employment and education opportunities and fair access to voting as citizens of the United States, are taken away by the Supreme Court. This will not sit well with ethnic communities around the nation.
So if the highest court in the land sees fit to turn back the hands of time of social injustices that kept blacks from the polls and circumvented their educational dreams and employment aspirations, what then becomes of a black man’s right in the court of law?
What we are seeing here in front of our eyes is a full frontal assault to the very liberties that allowed African Americans to be considered to be equal to white America. What’s going to happen next?
Are we going to have to go to the back of the bus again? Are we going to have to contend with “Whites Only” water fountains, restaurants and hotel rooms?
The one thing about history is that it repeats itself. And African Americans are going to have to do their due diligence and not get caught up in all of this entertainment hype and focus on what really is going on around them.
The focus now can’t be on whether Rihanna and Chris Brown are together or not.
It has to be about leaving behind the same opportunities to future generation that was afforded to us by those who stood toe-to-toe on the front lines against segregationists and lost their lives trying to give the chance to vote. It can’t be about just going to see a show anymore.
It is about the American dream of getting an education. It is about being equal and not being considered just three-fifths of a human being. It is about having the right judicial representation in a system where our children make up the majority of those incarcerated.
This all leads me back to the Zimmerman-Martin discussion. How all this plays out no one knows for sure. One thing people can be certain of is the wide-spread ramifications of racial profiling and societal judgment that it will have. It is written all over it.
The Zimmerman criminal trial is just one case. But two parents lost a son. A sibling lost a brother. This isn’t just about Trayvon Martin. This case also represents the Sean Bells, the Oscar Grants and Kendrec McDades of this world, unarmed black men who tragically lost their lives.
The Zimmerman case may center on race but it has future implications of thee social justice treatment of black Americans, a fact we can’t afford to lose sight of.