My heart was broken over the recent verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial of Trayvon Martin.
As a college professor who teaches classes on African American Culture from 1865-Present, The Philosophy of W.E.B. DuBois and Examining Diversity through Film, I was somewhat prepared for the verdict. It’s not as if there weren’t historical precedent for a verdict like this.
We’ve read or seen it in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the Denzel Washington film “The Hurricane,” the Leo Frank murder trial and the Scottsboro boys trial.
And we’ve even seen the reverse of it in the O.J. Simpson trial. I remember how racially polarized our country was when that verdict arrived. Many whites saw it clearly as an unfair verdict, while most blacks and many other racially underrepresented people silently, if not outwardly, celebrated Simpson’s not-guilty verdict largely on the mere fact that a black person actually beat the system.
It didn’t hurt that he had the money to buy a top-notch defense team. Oh, and it didn’t hurt that his jury was heavily racially represented in Simpson’s favor with nine blacks, two whites (both women) and one Hispanic.
If Zimmerman had been drunk and hit Trayvon with his car, he would more than likely have been found guilty of manslaughter. But Zimmerman being “drunk” with a desire to be more important than he was is exonerated. Only in America, home of the brave, land of the free — as long as you aren’t a black youth and that freedom isn’t practiced at night in a hoodie.
All I can think of is how I would have felt hearing that verdict of not guilty if it were my son who had been stalked by an overeager wanna-be cop who was told by the police to leave him alone.