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21 May 2012

Clash of Perspectives

Just a quick thought on the progress in the Trayvon Martin case. It is being reported that Trayvon had marijuana in his system and that both Martin and Zimmerman had obvious signs of being in a violent altercation. The pictures of Zimmerman appear to indicate that he got the better of it from Martin. The news media seem to be implying that this complicates the situation beyond the "unjustified white on black crime" narrative. I don't see it this way. None of the new information changes the basics of the case. A black boy was unduly targeted and ultimately killed by a white man. Let's change the facts to give us some perspective. Imagine a white teenage girl was walking home from a friend's house one night when a white man began following her in his car, then exited his car, and began pursuing her on foot. Now, what if the terrified girl pulled mace or a Tazer from her purse and incapacitates the man? Was her use of violence against what she thought was a rapist not understandable? Trayvon didn't have mace or a Tazer; he had his fists. Zimmerman got that broken nose, black-and-blue eyes, and gash on the back of his head because he was un-empathetic; he could not put himself in the other's shoes. Zimmerman's perspective--and that of the larger society--was that an unidentified young black man in a predominantly white, gated community did not belong. Martin's perspective--one shared with most subjugated peoples--was he was being targeted, potentially violently, because of his identity. It was the clashing of these perspectives that led to a tragic outcome, but only one of these perspectives is justifiable. None of this changes the criminal nature of what Zimmerman did. Ironically, Trayvon was just "standing his ground."

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