We are writing in response to your published article “Trayvon Martin Case is About More Than Race” by Chris Cronin. The divide and the differences in opinions concerning Martin’s untimely death are quite disheartening. When we read Cronin’s story, our opinions aligned with his argument until he asserted that “…they need to stop crying racism, at least for now, and start taking a good hard look at the law that is protecting his killer.”
When one looks at the Martin story, there is no doubt that the feeling of an untimely death comes to mind. Despite the fact that Zimmerman claimed self-defense, we can all appeal to our sense of reason and recognize that when two men go into an alleyway, where one is in possession of iced tea and Skittles and the other a gun, and the man with the gun returns alive and the other dead, something seriously went wrong.
It seems to me, for reasons unclear, that various groups want to move the conversation away from race and into the facts of the case and its relevant laws. What these groups fail to recognize, as with many racially fueled incidents, is that the facts themselves point to the significance of race in the case. So what are the facts? Zimmerman was on patrol. He saw a black teen in a hoodie. He thought he looked suspicious.
But why did he look suspicious? This is the central question that seems to escape those who are privileged enough to neglect this fact. Despite the appealing nature of looking solely at the law, as Cronin suggested, the law sadly does not deal with what led up to the tragedy, but rather repercussions for the tragedy. We cannot live in a society that functions on the principle of “after the fact.”
Murders happen every day within and outside of social groups. Further, the grounds for this tragedy, are still unclear, but what is clear, and is something for Cronin to factor into his argument, is that cases like Martin’s happen EVERY DAY. Moreover, contrary to Martin’s, the grounds for these cases bear no questioning as to whether they were incidents of racial profiling.
We, as a society, are not aware of these insidiously numerous instances because for some unknown reason, Martin’s case has grabbed national attention, but for the thousands of victims of racial profiling, only their immediate family and friends bear this knowledge and the daunting loss.
Our sophomore year at a Black Student Union party, for example, not only Public Safety but the Chestertown police intruded the party, patted our guests, found nothing and left. This was in response to a call they received with concerns of “suspicious” folks. One can say, “Oh, that was one time…” but this “one” time seems to happens over and over again. And as long as they keep happening, we can never stop crying racism in the face of racism, even now!
To end, at first glance Cronin’s suggestion seems logical for we are all bound by the law, and if the law is flawed in any way it systematically affects all spheres of our society. But what the privileged often fail to realize is that we may all be bound to the same laws but we are not bound to the same realities. Some people live in a social reality where they are not only governed by the laws of the Republic but the Republic itself. In other words, they have both codified and unspoken laws to contend with.
So, yes! We should “start taking a good hard look at the law that is protecting Martin’s killer,” but we must not “stop crying racism, at least for now.” We must instead balance the two, because it is the only way we can achieve and preserve the true essence of justice. We hope our cousins, brothers, and nephews grow up to be good men and citizens of the world; but how does one hope for such a future, much less achieve it, when the world of colored things seems to be nonexistent for many but cruel to its few?
– Larissa Check, `12 and Beverly Frimpong, `12