Sunday, July 14, 2013

Trayvon and My Son

I happen to be in Ireland today; it's 10:30 am Sunday here, so still 5:30 am at home.  I woke this morning to news of George Zimmerman's acquittal, and my family talked it over at breakfast.

A few nights ago we were in Charlotte with our friend Ed, a lawyer, and I asked him how he thought the verdict would go.  Ed winced.  Since everyone knew Zimmerman had shot and killed Martin, he said, the only question was one of self-defense or not.  In Ed's opinion, guilt beyond reasonable doubt was going to be tough to prove.  "Only two people know exactly what happened that night," he said, "and one of them is dead."  The other, of course, had a vested interest in not spending his life in jail.

My son is the same age as Trayvon would be, if Trayvon were still alive.  Like Trayvon, he's a big kid, over 6 feet tall.   He's sweet and goofy and impulsive.  I can't prove it, but I'm guessing that if  George Zimmerman had seen my son walking down the street at night in the rain, talking on his cell phone, his hoodie up, and Zimmerman had caught a glimpse of my son's face, Zimmerman would not have called to cops.  He would not have followed him, a handgun in his pocket.  He wouldn't have confronted my son, wouldn't have pulled out the gun.  Wouldn't have pulled the trigger.

I'm only guessing, but I feel Zimmerman wouldn't have felt threatened by my son the way he clearly felt threatened by Trayvon.  We white people don't want to admit the force racism still has in our society, but whether we want to admit it or not, the truth of this tragedy is that Trayvon Martin, seventeen years old, was shot because he was black.

Because he was black.

Because I don't believe George Zimmerman would have shot my white son.