- Published on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 16:50
- Written by Justin Bellamy
The meaning of justice in a tragedy underpinned with racial tension.
The Trayvon Martin story that has come to national attention in America has re-centered the national discourse on race. The details of the case are tragic: African-American teenager Trayvon Martin lost his life after being shot by a White Hispanic neighborhood watchmen who pursued him on grounds that he looked ‘suspicious’ while wearing a hoodie and carrying a bag of skittles.
Following the shooting, the arrest and charge of George Zimmerman did not come swiftly. A very widespread and heated debate emerged around the issue of justice. According to an MSNBC poll, 80% of Blacks believe the killing of Trayvon Martin was racially motivated while just 35% of Whites do.
This deep chasm between Whites and Blacks divided the country and here America stands at a pivotal moment, firstly of justice for Trayvon and second to have meaningful and candid discussion across racial lines about the still very flawed condition of race. But, will it happen? I’m afraid not.
The race-mongering that has largely colored discussions about the Trayvon Martin case is a portent of the piercing truth about the present condition of race: that Americans are afraid to unmask their inner and deeply flawed feelings towards other races such that unfortunate judgments like George Zimmerman’s are quelled.
America is not going to benefit from a stale debate about whether or not a racial issue is at hand in the killing of Trayvon Martin. Instead of mean-spirited outward looking assessments of who said what, Americans should think about engaging in critical introspection.
Seldom are people asking themselves ‘have I reached across racial lines to promote understanding so that the tragedy surrounding the Martin family does not happen again?’ The damage that preconceived notions and stereotypes have on all people in America can no longer be ignored.
Racism, White or Black, is wrong and destructive to the fabric of American society. Dialogue must be encouraged as widely as possible: including in homes, classrooms, Churches, mosques, temples, town halls and wherever a fruitful discussion has potential.
America, as it were, must peel back its layers and re-examine its shortcomings in bringing about a more equal and just nation. Only once the pain and missteps are uncovered will it be able to move forward on an issue of race that has haunted the country for far too long.