The George Zimmerman aftermath and my gut feelings


The trial of George Zimmerman ended on Saturday with the jury’s verdict of acquittal, based on reasonable doubt.  I had thought that surely with the late allowance of manslaughter consideration, Zimmerman would be convicted.  In my mind, along with many others, he was clearly engaged in profiling.  Florida’s Stand Your Ground law seemed inappropriate in a circumstance in which the defendant provoked the confrontation by pursuing the subject, ignoring the dispatcher’s counsel to let the police handle it.  How hard is that?  Besides, it was a specially appointed state prosecutor who found him culpable.

The entire incident with its racial undertones made me almost nauseous.   The panel pile-ups on MSNBC with its inveterate ideologues that rival, if not often outdo, Fox’s often castigated commitment to slant the truth, proved disturbing.  I changed the channel quickly when it promised Rev. Al Sharpton would appear following the break.  I’ve been long aware of his track history of imposing guilt simply based on race, only to be proven wrong.  Make no mistake.  Sharpton is no Mandela.

I have also disliked media’s repeated references to Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic” (by the way, false), serving only to fan the flames. It’s the race thing again, ironic since racism has been a primary plaintiff argument in alleging the defendant engaged in profiling.

I’m likewise appalled by the aftermath attacks on the jury, composed of six women, five of them White, though I think  an equal mix would have been better.  Talk about profiling?  What hypocrisy!

At the same time, I found the defense insensitive to the social history of Blacks, which informs so much of their suspicion they can’t find justice in White dominated courts.  In its close before the jury, it had the gall to quote slave-owning Thomas Jefferson, who we now know sexually exploited them.

There are no winners here. Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old, returning from a convenience store where he had bought candy and a soft drink, is dead.

Zimmerman, who will now have to always be looking over his shoulder, will need to go into hiding.

Fortunately, at least I hope, the jury’s identities are being protected.  They had a courage all their own in not being stampeded into judgment, though I think manslaughter was a legitimate option.  Mistakes were made on both sides.  Testimony often got cancelled out in the stream of many witnesses.  An honest jury doesn’t convict when there’s reasonable doubt.  The prosecution needed to prove its case.  It did not.  We can never know what really happened; only that it shouldn’t have happened.

The best way to honor Trayvon is to respond peaceably, though not passively.  As I write, the Department of Justice has announced it’s looking into whether civil right violations have occurred.

I had thought we had come along way in healing our racial wounds, but the trial with its undertones was like ripping off the scab.  We’ve still much work to do.

I’m concerned about much of racism’s breeding ground: abject poverty with its legacy of drugs, gangs, drive-by shootings; its fostering feelings of abandonment and exclusion; the harboring of resentment against the Man; in turn, the counter-resistance of Whites feeling themselves besieged,  often suspicious, reacting to symptoms rather than sources. In it ugliest vein, it leads to the often repeated American scenario of the White community thinking that Blacks must be sometimes killed or locked-up to keep their communities  safe.

Reconciliation must be our pursuit and it begins with understanding the Black malaise and its history.  Fellow Americans,  they are my brothers and sisters.  They are family.


Author: RJ

Retired English prof (Ph. D., UNC), who likes to garden, blog, pursue languages (especially Spanish) and to share in serious discussion on vital issues such as global warming, the role of government, energy alternatives, etc. Am a vegan and, yes, a tree hugger enthusiastically. If you write me, I'll answer.

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