What if the victim had strawberry blonde hair, freckled cheeks and skittle blue eyes? What if the shooter had leather brown skin, was armed with a 9mm gun, pursued and killed this freckled-faced teenager. Then would George Zimmerman have been convicted of murder? Absolutely! Zimmerman would have been labeled a thug and he would have paid price for his recklessness.
Yet for Trayvon Martin, the 17 year old who was murdered on February 26th 2012 by a vigilante neighbourhood patrolman, justice was denied. His case never stood a chance for his fate rested in the hands of a group that feels most threatened by black boys – white women. All too often, in ‘the land of the free and home of the brave’, when you are black, poor and male, chances are you will not find an advocate in the law.
True to form, the jury, when faced with the option of judging the actions of shooter who looks like them, deliberated for 16 hours and came out with a verdict that has inflammed racial tensions in America.
Zimmerman’s defense team is adamant that the trial was not an issue about race but about self-defence. What the rest of the world is grappling with is, a 17year black boy was walking in his neighbourhood and he was gunned down. An all white jury bypassed 2nd degree murder and manslaughter and concluded that the assailant who pursued and shot the teenager was not guilty.
My heart goes out to Trayvon’s family, but my mind wonders if instead of images of a hooded black teenager, the jury looked at Trayvon and saw a boy with skittle blue eyes and freckled cheeks trying to go home to mummy…Then, Zimmerman would be in an orange suit.