by Alberta Parish
Moments before the fatal shooting death of Trayvon Martin, several witnesses claim they heard the cries of a child. They all claim that when they heard a shot fired, the cries stopped. Yet, there are contradictory stories about George Zimmerman being the one who cried out for help on the night of February 26, 2012. Let’s say that hypothetically Zimmerman did cry out for help, then why does a 911 tape reveal the cries of a child in the background? Those cries belonging to Trayvon Martin as he cried out for help, which witnesses also corroborate. Zimmerman has claimed that he was walking back to his SUV when Martin attacked him. However, Martin’s girlfriend who spoke with him moments before he was shot by Zimmerman, said that she heard Martin asking Zimmerman, “Why are you following me?” Zimmerman asked Martin, “What are you doing around here?” Then moments later, she heard pushing. She thinks it was Martin that was pushed by Zimmerman, because she says that Martin’s “voice changes, like something interrupted his speech.” Then she said that she heard an argument, and shortly after, the call was cut off. She called Martin back but got no answer. Zimmerman has claimed that he and Martin had an altercation, which corroborates the testimony of Martin’s girlfriend. Zimmerman has claimed self-defense, but the 911 tape contradict his self-defense claim.
In the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s shooting death at the hands of George Zimmerman, race relations in America are at a boiling point.
Are we to tell black children that they cannot walk slowly through a neighborhood, because they may arouse suspicion? When will law-abiding black citizens ever stop being treated as criminal suspects in their own communities or outside their communities?
As a former resident of Miami, who lived in a dilapidated area as a child, I’ve witnessed gun violence, drugs, and death ravage my former community. When I left Miami at the age of 8, I left behind friends, institutionalized racism, and a drug-ridden community only to come to Atlanta and encounter greater institutionalized racism while wasting most of my youth being a good ol’ church girl.
The shooting of Trayvon Martin has sparked a national debate on race relations in a culture that clearly does not value the lives of its black citizens. If you take into consideration the minimal coverage on missing black women and children within the past year, you’ll see that the lives of poor black folk aren’t taken very seriously by the national media, which, in turn, will consistently cover stories on dead black celebrities such as Whitney Houston whose death on February 11, 2012 has been ruled as an accidental drowning due to habitual cocaine use and heart disease, according to the official toxicology report released last week.
According to reports, George Zimmerman’s 911 call implicates that the physical appearance of Trayvon Martin was considered when Zimmerman told the police dispatcher that there had been some break-ins in his neighborhood, and there’s a real suspicious guy, and this guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs. In addition, Zimmerman told the dispatcher that “it’s raining and he’s just walking about, looking about.” The dispatcher asked Zimmerman whether the guy was white, black, or Hispanic. Zimmerman replied that he looks black. Zimmerman’s neighbors have also complained about his aggressive tactics in his duties as neighborhood watch leader. Over the past year, Zimmerman has made numerous 911 calls to report suspicious persons or disturbances in the neighborhood. According to one neighbor, there had been a lot of break-ins committed largely by black males in the gated Sanford community. Therefore, this serves as further indication that Trayvon Martin was regarded as a suspicious person based on the fact that he was a black boy, and according to Zimmerman, was looking about while walking about in the rain.
There are young black males walking about in my neighborhood every day. They hang around outside a lot. Many do not have jobs. Yet, when I come home from work in the late evening, I don’t look about just to spot a young black man, and think he’s going to rob or rape me. However, I’m not naive in thinking that there aren’t any shady characters who live in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, shady characters exist in every corner of the world. To me, I feel that I’d be in more danger if I lived in a predominantly white neighborhood, especially since black women are going missing all over the United States. I don’t believe that all these missing black women are being snatched off the streets by members of their own ethnic community.
Even if George Zimmerman claims to not be a racist, his profiling of young black males due to an increase of break-ins in the neighborhood mostly perpetuated by young black males, according to neighbors, certainly exacerbates the flames of institutionalized racism in America and also reveals the increased profiling of young black males and females in a society that consistently treats them like criminal suspects. The crime wave happening in the Sanford, Florida community is a societal issue and not just a black problem. Besides, Western culture breeds the kind of lawlessness we all have a front row seat to. The crime wave of racially motivated hate crimes and cover-ups of hate crimes by local police officials only shows the internal sickness of a culture built upon disloyalty, economic exploitation, greed, and chaos. This nation began in bloodshed. Therefore, it will probably end upon the same selfish and deadly principles in which it began.