…And is that “war” going to be based on race?
Before I get into this topic, I’m going to clarify the racial terms I’m going to use so as not to offend anyone. For ease of typing I’m going to use “white,” “black,” and “Hispanic.”
It appears that racial tensions in the US are hitting an all time high right now, mostly because of the killing of a teenager in Sanford, Florida, I’m sure everyone has heard about it, the Treyvon Martin case. I’m not going to say that this was the start of the new racial tensions in the US, but it seems to be a major catalyst. One could argue that racial tensions started increasing with the campaign and election of President Obama, especially since the Black Panthers were out intimidating voters in Pennsylvania, and he has become the most divisive president in my lifetime. Agree with the President’s policies or not, I think most people would agree that the divisions between races and along socioeconomic lines have not been this clearly defined since the 1960s, if ever. But I digress.
Back to Treyvon Martin.
I think most of us know the story by now, a black teenager was walking home through an apartment complex and was stopped by George Zimmerman a
white Hispanic man who had elected himself neighborhood watch captain. Martin was armed with a tea and bag of skittles, Zimmerman was armed with a pistol, something happened between the two of them and Martin ended up shot and killed. Zimmerman claimed self-defense and the media went wild with the story of the white Hispanic man who killed the black kid who didn’t do anything wrong.
George Zimmerman is not white, he is half-white, half-Hispanic but claims his Hispanic heritage. A fact that the press took weeks to get correct, long after they had sensationalized this into a white-on-black murder and a hate crime.
Zimmerman was not a member of an organized neighborhood watch due to his application never having been approved because he would not follow the regulations set forth by the neighborhood watch organization (#1 rule-do not carry weapons, #2-follow the directions of law enforcement personnel). His title of “Neighborhood Watch Captain” was self-appointed and he had no more authority to stop and question Martin than any other neighbor in the apartment complex did. Martin did not have to answer any questions posed by Zimmerman, nor did he even have the obligation to stop when/if Zimmerman asked/ordered him to.
Zimmerman has a long history of violent tendencies while in authority positions, there are reports of his use of violence while working as a security guard for private parties, domestic violence accusations, and while in this role of Neighborhood Watch Captain he had called the Sanford police department numerous times to report such crimes as children playing in the road, suspicious vehicles parked in neighbors driveways, and garage doors being left open.
On the particular night in question, Zimmerman was told by the Sanford police dispatch to stop following Martin and to let the police handle it, Zimmerman ignored this request.
Treyvon Martin, a 17-year-old black teenager painted by the press as an innocent victim with no criminal history. He was painted as everything except a church choir member. His only crime was being black, wearing a hoodie, and going to the local mini-mart to get his brother a bag of skittles. Good student, considerate, funny, got along with everyone, pictures of him at the age of 12 or 13 were posted on every newscast and website.
Actually, he had been transfered to another school where he had started hanging around with “the wrong crowd,” he had been suspended from that school for a drug offense, which is why he was back in Sanford to begin with.
Other interesting facts
This neighborhood/apartment complex had been the sight of a number of burglaries perpetrated at night by black teenagers over the months leading up to the murder.
What does it all mean?
The media had a field day with this story, a white man killed a black teenager and the story got so twisted that it was obvious that the media was playing it as a race-based hate crime between whites and blacks. Neglected was the fact that Zimmerman is Hispanic, neglected was the fact that Martin was not the perfect little angel that the media presented. Called into question was the fact that Zimmerman claimed that the shooting was self-defense, which I have a hard time believing that Zimmerman acted in self-defense when it is obvious that he instigated the incident by ignoring the police dispatcher who had told Zimmerman to stop pursuit and wait for the police. My question is if Zimmerman started the pursuit, didn’t Martin have just as much right to defend himself from being followed and accosted by Zimmerman by any means necessary as Zimmerman had in shooting Martin once Martin started beating him? I think this is why the DA chose to bring 2nd degree murder charges against Zimmerman, because if Zimmerman had not willfully ignored the police dispatcher, Martin would probably still be alive.
How does this lead to a Civil War or Race War?
Or, at the very least, increased racial tension? Let’s take a look at the press, first of all. They were the ones who presented this as a hate crime to begin with. What had been a complex case of a person shooting another person who he thought was suspicious then claiming self-defense, the press turned it into a white man killing a black man after uttering a possible racial slur. It didn’t help that the Sanford police did not look into the crime past the self-defense plea, and did not notify Martin’s parents until the next day when they called the police department looking for him. The ball was dropped during this case, is it because Treyvon Martin is black? Probably not, it probably has more to do with Zimmerman claiming self-defense and the police treating it as an open-and-shut case rather than looking at it in a suspicious, “maybe he’s covering something up” manner and collecting evidence, “just in case” the evidence was needed later on.
Then you have the President of the United States weighing in on the situation making remarks like, “Treyvon Martin could have been my child.” Because the President is also black (or, like Zimmerman, half-white and half-black but identifying more with his black heritage). Saying something like this rallies the troops faster than any news cast ever would. You have ignorant people looking to the highest authority figure in the US, and saying “Treyvon Martin could have been the President’s son! We have to take action against the white people who killed Treyvon.” Now the Black Panthers have put a bounty on Zimmerman since he has been released from prison, people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are leading rallies for “the memory of Treyvon Martin,” and everyday people are taking the law into their own hands.
Because of Treyvon?
Two black teenagers in Chicago, one 18 and one 15, accosted a 19-year-old white man, grabbed him from behind, robbed him then hit him repeatedly in the head and on the back with a large branch. When found the suspects stated that their attack was “racially motivated.” They have been charged with aggravated assault and a hate crime. (http://www.thegrio.com/specials/trayvon-martin/trayvon-martin-cited-in-case-of-black-man-beating-white-man.php)
A 78-year-old white man was assaulted by 6 black teenagers in east Toledo, Ohio. The police are not treating it as a hate crime, as the victim has been determined to have “exaggerated the facts.” (toledoblade.com)
A white man in Mobile, Alabama with a history of using racial slurs against his black neighbors and children in the neighborhood, was beaten by 20 black individuals including children using bats, paint cans, bricks, and pipes. This man was admitted to the ICU at a hospital in Mobile with “bleeding in the brain” and multiple other injuries. One of his attackers was heard to have said, something to the effect of “now that’s justice for Treyvon Martin.” Police are investigating this incident as an assault, not bringing hate crime charges to any of those participating in the mob, pending further investigation. (http://www2.wkrg.com/news/2012/apr/23/59/man-beaten-mob-critical-condition-ar-3659891/)
Is it going to stop with these incidents, of which there are many more examples out there? Are all crimes going to be racially charged from now on? Is the next “Treyvon Martin” case going to be even bigger and incite even more hostilities?
My husband and I were discussing this the other night. Neither one of us wants our kids to grow up in a world where they have to be suspicious of someone just because of their skin color. But we have a sad suspicion that this country is becoming more and more divided along race lines. Every crime, every thought, every word taken out of context appears to be “because I’m _____ and you’re _____” (insert race preference here). We see it here, we saw it in Georgia. Shoot it even happened in Maine (there it was Americans vs Canadians and most every one was white-but still). Black on Hispanic, Hispanic on black, black on white, white on Hispanic, white on black, does it even matter anymore? I think the only time race should be mentioned in a news story is when it has to do with the police looking for a suspect. No one really cares if the woman who was apprehended by the police after dancing around naked in a cemetery is white, black, pink, purple, or neon green after she is in police custody. Now, when race becomes important is when the local mini-mart is robbed and the police need public assistance looking for suspects, then it’s helpful to know that the police are looking for a 6’1″ tall Hispanic male with a mustache wearing a red shirt.
Is this all coming to a war? Who knows. It is easy to see however, that violence in this country is escalating and that much of it is becoming race based.
Here are a couple of quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, who I think would be appalled at the fact that race is even an issue in 2012:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish as fools”
Right now, it seems like the fools are winning…