The fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, 17, by George Zimmerman, 28, took place Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Fla.; now Zimmerman’s trial is one of the most polarizing court cases in American history.
The Project for Excellence in Journalism has even reported that media coverage of the Trayvon Martin case became the first story in 2012 to be featured more than the presidential race that occurred that same year.
Despite your personal feelings toward Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin and the events that occurred on the night the shooting took place, there is no denying that the “not guilty” verdict split Americans across political, ideological and racial lines.
The trial’s aftermath revealed something disturbing about the psyche of the American people.
Despite the immense progress made since the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom Aug. 28, 1963, and the Civil Rights movement from 1955-1968, a lingering prejudice still exists against minorities, specifically African-Americans, in the United States.
At this point, I assume someone reading this commentary is skeptical of that last claim.
After all, how can racial prejudice still exist in a nation that just re-elected its first African-American president?
“Isn’t that enough for [African Americans]?” my co-worker asked as we discussed racial bias and whether it still exists in America today.
This idea that racism is “dead” because Barack Obama is president of the United States is a narrow and incorrect view of what racism really is.
Martin was doing nothing wrong when he was walking back to his father’s home Feb. 26, 2012.
He had gone to a gas station to buy some snacks.
Zimmerman appears to have racially profiled Martin that night, assuming Martin was a criminal because he was black, wearing baggy clothes and walking around in a neighborhood that had experienced a slew of break-ins.
This is a fact integral to the entire case; after all, if Zimmerman had not followed Martin based off of false assumptions, the young teenager would still be alive.
Instead of accepting this basic line of logic, Fox News executives decided to bring Zimmerman on “Hannity” and proclaim that the “liberal media” had wrongfully targeted Zimmerman.
For months, MSNBC and other networks had been circulating outdated photos of Trayvon Martin in an attempt to sway public opinion in favor of the young teenager.
In retaliation, conservatives rallied around the idea that the trial was not about race at all.
Conservative media pundits clung to the following mindset: Zimmerman is of Hispanic descent.
“How could the trial be about race and racism when Zimmerman is not Caucasian?” they asked.
Again, the main problem here is that a large portion of the general public is greatly misinformed as to what racism actually is.
Racism is defined as “hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.”
It does not specifically apply to white and black people.
It is entirely plausible that a Hispanic person could racially profile an African American as a criminal, and that is exactly what happened with Zimmerman and Martin.
Conservative America, which is overwhelming white, often becomes defensive (and weirdly aggressive) when other races talk about racial inequality within our country.
This hardline attitude was perfectly displayed during the Zimmerman trial.
I find it odd that the case did not involve anyone of Caucasian descent but was vigorously championed by the political right as an example of “liberal bias” against whites and traditional ideals — solely because the term “racism” was thrown around.
Unfortunately for Far Right-Wing, 65-year-old Americans (Fox News Channel’s key demographic), the United States is rapidly becoming more racially diverse.
An article that appeared May 17, 2012, in The Daily Mail reported that, according to statistics by the U.S. Census Bureau, Caucasians will be outnumbered by other minority groups in America by 2043, and, that for the first time ever, non-white babies outnumber white babies.
As America’s demographic continues to change, a bias toward whites in American society will be challenged by the growing minority population more heavily.
Post-racial America will probably never exist — or at least not anytime soon. The United States has only stood for “racial equality” for about 50 years, and you know what people say: “Old habits die hard.”