Racial Truths

George Zimmerman, the man responsible for fatally shooting, 17 year old, Tayvon Martin on February 28, 2012, is becoming more infamous by the hour.The unfortunate situation has reopened the dialogue about race and ethnicity tolerance, moral character, and security procedures in America.

Between news reports and online commentaries, an overwhelming majority has sympathised with Martin and his family.  As overwhelming as his opposition is, Zimmerman 's prejudices are still the norm in this country.  

It is often difficult to engage in discussions of racism and prejudice cross culturally, because of the level of shame that still exists post-slavery and post-civil-rights.  As a nation, we take pride in the United States, as a model for freedom and equality.  If we admit to having retained some of the old 'immoral' ideology would suggest chink in the armor for our Nation's moral integrity.  Such a suggestion would be especially problematic for the more conservative.

Because the United States remains the world's melting pot of race, culture, and ethnicity, it is necessary to constantly remain sensitive to the coexistence of other people groups with different appearances and values.  Martin's untimely death offers us the rare opportunity to discuss the impact we all have on the racial climate of the U.S.

Geraldo Rivera weighed in on the situation in an interview with Fox News.  Rivera believes that Martin's hoodie is just as responsible for his death as Mr.Zimmerman, "when you see a kid walking down the street, particularly a dark-skinned kid like my son Cruz, who I constantly yelled at when he was going out wearing a damn hoodie or his pants around his ankles, take that hood off.  people look at you... and whats the instant identification, whats the instant association? "[3077]

Rivera went on to speak specifically on the radicalized nature of Martin's appearance "When you see a black or latino youngster, particularly, on the street, you walk to the other side of the street.  you try to avoid that confrontation."[3077]

Dictionary.Refrence.com gives us this definition of prejudice:  "unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of ahostile natureregarding a racial, religious, or national group."[3079]  In the Fox News interview, Rivera failed to recognize such radicalized prejudgment as morally wrong.  Instead he defended the associations and divided responsiblity for Martin's death between Zimmerman and Martin's hoodie.  

According to the interviews of his neighbors by CNN, Zimmermen is described as "Just a guy who cared."  He has been passionate about law enforcement, as he has had plans of someday becoming a police officer.  George Hall, Zimmermen's former neighbor, described Zimmermen's demeanour as "always polite" as a young man.[3078]

When asked if Zimmermen would be described as racist George Hall's wife, Kay hall responded "Not from what I know, because, basically they were among a minority themselves."[3078] His upbringing sounds no different from any other suburban American.

Frank Taaffe, Zimmerman's current neighbor and most outspoken advocates, climes that his neighborhood has been the target of a number of brakes by young black men.  In his interview with CNN, he makes it clear that Marten was a guest in his neighborhood, and was obligated to respond to Zimmerman's questioning that night.

According to Taaffe, Zimmerman has been doing the neighborhood a great service as an appointed neighborhood watchmen.  Zimmerman at one point, protected Taaffe's own property from intrusion.  He also points out the fact that Zimmerman had a physical struggle with Martin, who managed to punch Zimmerman in the nose on the night of the shooting.

Likely, the bigger issue here are the 'Stand your ground laws', which allows Zimmerman to act aggressively in self-defence.  attorney Tonya Young Williams, tells CNN that she believes that the police have done a very "lazy investigation at best", due to the 'Stand your ground laws.'  She and many others believe that if the situation required such an extreme level of force, the police are responsible for providing protection and not a civilian.[3080]