Trayvon, Trials & Trust


Trayvon Martin would not have been shot if he had been white. 

I believe this. I believe George Zimmerman would not have felt “threatened” by a white teenager in a hoodie.  And if  Z. hadn’t felt threatened, he likely wouldn’t have followed M. The do-or-die confrontation would not have happened. And an innocent skittles and pop buying teenager would still be alive. 

It was Trayvon’s blackness that aroused fear in Z. “What was a black kid doing in my neighborhood?” Z. said as much in his 911 call to the police. 

I wish Trayvon was still alive. I wish GZ had obeyed the police when they told him to not get out of his car. And I damn wish GZ hadn’t had a gun in the first place.  And like many I wonder, “Would GZ have been convicted had he’d been black and Trayvon white?”  My answer to that question makes me furious. 

At the same time – a jury, composed of people like you and me – found GZ not guilty. Should the state have brought different charges? Perhaps. Did they overreach in the first place? Maybe.

Do I believe there is something broken in our system? Yes. There is something deeply flawed in our policies that is creating a perpetual “under caste” system in the words of Michelle Alexander. And I believe that broken system is riddled with racism. In small ways, I’ve seen it up close but always “safely” since as a middle class white woman my odds of being sucked into the system are low.

Still, it feels to me like the jury that aquitted is not the enemy. And they are not the ones on whom I will wail. Instead I’m going to focus on what I’ve focused on all along, what I believe are the underlying causes of this tragedy: our fear of the “other” and the illusion that guns make us safer.

6 thoughts on “Trayvon, Trials & Trust

  1. I think the KKK influence is alive and well in the south. There is no doubt in my mind that if Trayvon had been white he would have not even been noticed by Zimmerman. If Trayvon had shot Zimmerman, Trayvon would have been arrested immediately and hauled away in handcuffs. I believe the all white female jury did not understand how Z tracked Treyvon with the intention to hurt this black, innocent kid. That Z was not convicted is a travesty of justice. I hope his family files a civil suit against Z quickly and win a huge settlement. It won’t bring Trayvon back, but at least it will be a bit of punishment.

  2. Laura,

    I always enjoy reading your blogs (essays, articles). I agree with you wholeheartedly that racism is alive and well in the good old USA. Having an African American President has unearthed some deep seated racism in our country. I am deeply sorrowful for this and wish it were otherwise. Yet as Richard Rohr reminds us the Light shines from within darkness and the darkness will not overcome the Light. This gives us a measure of hope. But I have to disagree with your basic premise in this particular article. I live about 20 min from Sanford, FL and have lived with this trial for over 16 months, much as I lived with the OJ trial when I lived in Orange County, CA. I am amazed that no one is pointing out that OJ was found innocent, a crime of black on white as it were. It is tragic that this young man lost his life. But to claim that he was an innocent little boy buying Skittles and pop does not represent the whole truth. Quite frankly none of us knows for sure what really happened. The jury had much more information that we have. But let’s not overlook the images of GZ’s battered face and head as the result of the tussled with TM. It was an unfortunate incident that should not have happened but to paint GZ as a racist (he is Hispanic) and TM as an innocent little boy with Skittles does not represent the big picture here. But keep writing cause I do enjoy your posts.

    • Hey Steve,
      Thanks for reading and posting. I appreciate that. And I agree it’s complicated and the jury had more facts than we do. I also sympathize with the 24/7 coverage you’ve had down there for 18 months. I’ve been blissfully TV-free for this entire time.

      To me our underlying racial tensions are just ignited in dangerous ways when people have guns. Period. It gets worse when they live in states that pass laws like Stand Your Ground. In the hands of vigilante or cop-wantabes, SYG takes fist-fight altercations and makes them into a day of death.

      Sorry to bring up another Florida story, but I wonder what you think about the situation of Jordan Davis, up near Jax.

      To me that sad story illuminates the deeper fears going on – and our violent response to it – in particularly poignant ways.

      • Hey Laura, sad that it takes something like this to get us talking to one another. Yes the 24/7 media coverage came a bit too close to the Casey Anthony fiasco for us Central Floridians. It is exhausting. As a pastor it becomes challenging to help keep our congregations engaged but not contentiously divided. We have enough trying to divide us without the media and all that flows from their lusts for ratings. The past Presidential campaign was tough enough.

        Actually the jury could not have rendered any other verdict according to the guidelines and laws under which they deliberated. Was it a just verdict? Well, who can provide tangible proof of intent? Therein lies the crux of the Jury’s dilemma. I cannot and will not make any attempt to offer an educated and informed opinion on Zimmerman’s guilt or not-guilt. I just don’t know. Was he a racist. I don’t know anymore than I know for sure that Trayvon was a hood in a hoodie. I just don’t know. The jury had information we the public do not have.

        That aside, what concerns me more than this verdict is the deep divide in our country, a country in which every part of our living fabric is politicized. The gap is widening as we speak. As Christian pastors we have (at least I feel a calling to this task) of doing all we can to help heal that rift. I have written an article for my own blog that I will post after it has marinated for a day or two. You may check it out at Click on the Pastor’s Blog.

        I appreciate you Laura. I also appreciate your intelligence and your writing ability. I also pray for your ministry. I have also recommended to acquaintances who live in Chicago to check out your church. My fee in nominal. LOL. I am not aware of the case up in Jax. Don’t have the energy for another one just yet.

        Peace, Steve

  3. How long oh foolish people will you despise yourself ? And bite, kick, and destroy each other the bible says Acts 17:26 that he God has made from one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.
    Genesis 3:20 the bible says and Adam called his wife’s nameEve because she was the mother of all living. Let me ask by way of deductive reasoning if Eve is the mother of all living then Adam has to be the father of all living as far as creation is concerned and since God made all people from one blood regardless of skin color then we are all brothers and sisters.
    Small minds hate people because of skin color,or age,or whatever but here I am addressing race I am tired of this race mess and the mindset of years past attempting to be a factor today when we are suppose to be living in an advanced society when it seems we have not advanced in this erea so my question is have we really advanced.
    ” Preacherman in Louisiana.”

  4. Here is the bigger picture if I am white and my heart has a medical complication the doctor says you need a heart transplant sir! Do I say in a low tone of voice as I lean toward the doctor and ask doc is the donor ah well he is not African American is he? How ridiculous is that! How ridiculous is it to judge someone before you know that person for yourself? And who gave anyone the right to kill someone else? You want to live. Well they do also God is the author of life he starts the book and he ends the book.
    Let me ask all of us don’t we have bigger giants to tackle than hating each other? Also let me prophesy America stay vigilant and prayerful the bible says while they were sleeping the enemy came in sleep does not necessarily mean literal it also means figuratively not vigilant while we are lulled asleep by the ignorance that prevail in our society we better watch we are not compromising our own good and leaving ourselves vulnerable.
    I am just saying blessings to you all!!!!

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