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Trayvon Martin (online discussion)

March 22, 2012

I want to have a discussion about what we can see, learn, and talk about in regards to race as it relates to Trayvon Martin in contemporary America


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  1. Briana Nelson permalink

    It is very unfortunate what happened to Trayvon. It is even more frustrating about how the situation was handled. Earlier in class someone had mentioned if this situation will have an affect on future occurrences if they are to happen. And, my answer is no. If the story of Emmett Till hasn’t reached the ears of many Pullman students, I feel like this story wont reach the ears of others also. Perhaps because murder of Trayvon was seen as “Hispanic”, the police decided to partially let this investigation off the hook? Whatever the reason is, this is terribly wrong and I believe that America has a lot of work to do. I do appreciate America in many ways, but there are obviously things I disagree with.
    How come stories such as this do not blow up, such as the misleading Kony video? These types of stories should bring awareness to the many race issues minorities face on a day to day basis.

  2. Justin Ramos permalink

    I feel that this case is tragic, but these types of cases happen almost everyday. It is sad to hear that people are killing each other constantly for how they look, who they hang out with, or even where they were born. Many of us are privileged that we do not see things like this or have direct ties to it. I agree in that these stories need to be made much more aware. The question of does race matter? is the big question. A student in class asked the question, “what if Trayvon Martin had been white?” In my opinion, had Trayvon Martin been white, nothing would have happened that night. We must consider that the community was a gated community, so it must have had been a middle class or upper-middle class community, so we can assume due to societal and institutional barriers there may have not been many black families in that community. Take into account George Zimmerman was immediately suspicious of Trayvon. He had no cause to be suspicious, but because Trayvon was black that was enough for Zimmerman to conclude that Trayvon was up to no good. Zimmerman made a judgment about Trayvon, because of his skin color and the way he looked. He did not know Trayvon, just that he was black and felt that he was up to no good. So had Trayvon Martin been white, would Zimmerman have had this suspicion or even questioned the motives of Trayvon? We may never know without a doubt, but again in my opinion Zimmerman would have let Trayvon go without suspicion or question had Trayvon been white. As a society, we Americans have many stereotypes and prejudices against every race and each other, these judgments happen everyday and I am sure we all do it from time to time, but as we can see these judgments can be deadly and are just wrong.

  3. Lets push the conversation to think about the institutions, practices, and ideologies that contributes to an injustice such as this one

  4. Amelia McClung permalink

    I think what happened to Trayvon was a great tragedy, but I think one very big underlying belief in his story is that of the Black man as a criminal. I feel like if Trayvon were a White kid walking alone at night there wouldn’t have been a 911 call and there certainly wouldn’t have been any suspicion about what he was doing, unless he was obviously doing some criminal act. I think that this belief also goes up to the institution. Police also tend to label Black men and other minority men as criminals, so the fact the Trayvon was Black made it easy for them to close his case because he’s just a Black kid, he probably would’ve been a criminal someday. I really hope the media attention and public outrage over this incident will help get justice for his death, but in the long run it isn’t going to change anything about our beliefs about races and how they are reflected in our institutions.

  5. DeShaun Mizner permalink

    When i read this story I was shocked at how easily Zimmerman was able to get away with such an awful crime. I couldn’t bring myself to terms with race alone. I know that since he was black, media caused a stir that became a nation wide event. But the fact that age and gender and even the physical object aspect of this case came of shock. It made me wonder if it was an Africa American girl with a knife, would Zimmerman have made such distorted accusations? If the boy was 12, (which is what age i thought he was at first) would Zimmerman have followed the boy? Which brings me to another thought that I’m sure most of you have had. How is Zimmerman able to avoid the fact that the police told him ” he shouldn’t follow Trayvon”? He simply disobeyed the law, which should be used against him in the grand jury. The Institutions and practices obviously have loop holes if a man can murder a boy who likes to carry ice tea and skittles. I am not exactly sure on the neighborhood watch program that Zimmerman was involved in, but the rules are fuzzy if he is allowed to make over 50 police calls. I also learned from ABC News that the manual of this program states clearly that ” they shall not carry weapons or pursue vehicles”. I enjoyed seeing that over 900,000 signatures were made towards the arrest of Zimmerman, but that didn’t seem to be enough at the time. Also to see that on March 20th a statement by the police admitted to have missed a racist comment made by Zimmerman shows how arrogance mixed with authority, especially in racial circumstances prove to be unavoidable.

  6. DeShaun: He was not part of an official “neighborhood watch” from the current reporting. I also think it should note that media was silent for weeks and only as a result of massive amount of social media did the media begin to cover (still without consideration of larger issues). How does stereotyping play here in regards to Zimmerman seeing Trayshon as suspicious? How do stereotypes play out regarding decision of police to drug and alcohol test Martin and not Zimmerman; what about decision to do background check on Martin and not Zimmerman? Lets talk about the bigger issues as well

  7. Alex Clark permalink

    I believe the only reason Trayvon was shot and killed was because of his skin color. I doubt the reason was because this neighborhood watch guy was a racist; it was most likely his subconscious kicking in when he was faced with what he thought was a life or death situation. Unfortunately the neighborhood watch guy had a subconscious which told him that because the “suspect” he was following was black, wearing baggy close, and running away, and that immediately added up to be a “criminal” in his mind. Was the way the neighborhood watch guy thought unfortunate? Most definitely. Would most people in CES 101 make the same decision as the neighborhood watch guy make the same mistake? I would say that’s up for debate. I feel this situation was not an isolated incident, and the outcome was cause by a mindset that society has been promoting for several years.

    • Kyla Chappell permalink

      No offense, but I disagree with a lot of the points made in this post. You say you believe Trayvon WAS killed because of his skin color, but DON’T believe the man was racist, what? Also, saying the self-appointed neighborhood watchmen probably was faced with “a life or death” situation is absurd. Clearly, if your subconscious kicks in this kind of thought, you cannot deny racism is here. And if seeing a person (whether they be black) walking down the street causes you to feel uncomfortable or “in a life or death situation” you clearly should not self appoint yourself to be a part of the neighborhood watch, because obviously you are going to come across some more serious instances you will have to deal with. The fact that Trayvon became a “suspect” to Zimmerman JUST because he was black, and wearing baggy clothes and that added up to being a criminal clearly shows Zimmerman was a racist. Had it been a white kid wearing baggy clothes, or even skinny jeans, would he still be considered in Zimmerman’s mind to be a “suspect” or the definition of a criminal?? I also disagree with you saying its debatable whether or not most people in our CES 101 class would make the same decision as Zimmerman. I believe most sane people would not consider a black kid walking down the street with a hooded sweatshirt and baggy clothes, as grounds to shoot them dead.

      • Given how central race and commonplace racism is, and given how implicit bias operates, the question isn’t simply prejudice and cannot just be about Zimmerman (the police). Remember, the what you did versus what you are conversation

  8. Jackson Scalzo permalink

    I believe the media was initially silent about the case because of the caution they wanted to take on the issue at hand. If the media had blown this case up from the beginning, I can only hope to think that the whole investigation would have gone differently and there would be a demanding pressure from the public to at least hold timmerman for questioning or until his court case. Since the case was masked, it has allowed for the department to have breathing room in their attempt to not have the race card seen as the reason for timmermans actions. The department has pushed to legitimize timmermans actions seeming to give him the benifit of doubt, but why? Because he was operating on standard procedures in his neighborhood? I do not think so, but this racially fueled matter was accepted by the local law. Because trayvon was black is the reason for him being put under the spotlight instead of timmerman, because the local law enforcement has been trying to find ways to justify timmermans actions.

  9. You mean Zimmerman

    Jackson –What sorts of stereotypes are evident here and how do these stereotypes play out in other contexts? what does that reveal?

  10. Laurel Mahnke permalink

    I came across an article in USA Today where Trayvon Martin’s mother, Tracy, recounts warning her son black men in America are labeled as dangerous, and now that warning is echoing in her head. I also came across an article in the Raving Black Lunatic blog where he spoke out about Martin and how it is linked to racism. Both of these accusations of racism are from African Americans. I then read more about Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee who is taking “temporary” leave and stands by his ruling on the investigation of Zimmerman. In combination with the police department and the media getting such a late start on airing the story nationally. This tragic story gained steam because African Americans saw injustice and spoke out against it, but as we have talked about before white people became comfortable in there own positions. When given the facts it is apparent Zimmerman had to act out based on stereotypes he cast onto Martin as a young black boy walking alone at night. IF Zimmerman acted on them then in turn I also believe the Sanford Police Department acted on them. I also believe it took so long for the story to gain steam in the mainstream media because of ignorance of racial issues. In the Raving Black Lunatic blog the writer said “Racism is strong. But are we stronger? Are we as a nation strong enough to make an example out of Zimmerman?” I think we need to make an example out of the comfortable white majority like Bill Lee. As much as Zimmerman is a horrible racist and killer, injustice is found in the people of power who propel the stereotypes by turning the other cheek. This case is very tragic because life is lost, but I think for minorities who feel shorted there is hope. Injustice and Trayvon Martin are a regular conversation topic and I think as long as it stays mainstream there is more awareness which in a way brings hope.

  11. Rachael Gorrie permalink

    I believe that what we can see from the Trayvon Martin incident is that our country has not made the progress we think it has in regards to racism and discrimination. The notion that since the civil rights movement, we have eliminated thought processes that associate negative images with blacks or any other minority is going to be laid out for all to see and flipped on its head. I believe that a majority of Americans think that laws like the fair housing act, the right for blacks to vote, etc. have alone, gotten rid of racism. However, I think that this event with Trayvon, due to its extensive media coverage, opened up conversations all across the country about where we are as a nation in terms of our equality and mentalities about race. As individuals, those who previously thought we were past racism will now be able to look into their own lives and examine and reflect on their daily actions and how they interact with others, especially of other races. Although many people may take the Trayvon Martin case and decide that it is only a rare case of a crazy racist extremist who committed a terrible act, the fact that this kind of horrific incident is and was at the forefront of many conversations in the media and among other Americans, it will allow for others to educate them about the changing nature of the definitions and forms of racism in our country. No one can deny that this event will be remembered as a major event and marker in our history if Zimmerman is not convicted for this crime. The fact is, race and other factors aside, if there are two people together one of them has a gun, and then one of them dies, the person with the gun should at the very very least be taken into custody. This was the case with Trayvon Martin’s murder. Therefore, if justice is not served, we will all remember how even decades after our supposed “progress” was made, we are still dealing with racial hatred and killing in 2012.

  12. Kyla Chappell permalink

    There have been so many articles about Trayvon Martin’s case, but I think this is really beneficial. Obviously, our world needs more awareness of how influential racism is even today. What happened to Trayvon is so tragic, and the way the case is being carried out is crazy. The fact that Zimmerman has not been in police custody once, not even for questioning, throws up a red flag in our justice system. Our country has clearly made little progress in the fight against racism, and much work is still needed in order for racism to no longer be an issue. There are many obvious things that Zimmerman could be charged with, but instead he gets off scotch free. It’s sad, considering all the progress American’s think we have made over the years. Here we are in 2012, and white man getting no punishment for killing a black teenager, for looking “suspicious” to him, and on no other grounds.

  13. Gary Barquet permalink

    It’s quite obvious that race definitely has to do with the action that hasn’t been taken. I would like to know how much evidence do they need, or what evidence do they need besides Trayvon being dead? I cant think of one possible thing Trayvon could have done to deserve to be shot and killed. The fact he was black and wearing a hoody in a gated community had everything to do with Zimmerman being suspicious or if you ask me intimidated. When it comes to the publicity that this case is gaining I question it. I would like to ask a question, if justice is served do you think the only reason is because people cared and it was made public? I have no problem with people suporting Trayvon but i think its sad that possibly the only reason justice will be served is becuase of the action the public and his parents made. Do black people have to do this with every unfair case? This is what our justice system should be doing automatically, for a case as obvious as this one justice should have been served a long time ago. I feel as if him being black plays a role into the courts suspicion also, maybe thinking things such as, he probably was up to something, or he had to of do something for Zimmerman to shoot him, which i think is very far from the truth. Justice shouldn’t have a race.

  14. Mallory Nagel permalink

    After spending the last couple weeks in class discussing Trayvon Martin, I am still in shock about the slow progress of the court case and how there is still much debate over what happened on that night in February. First, I believe that since the only people that know fully what happened on that night are Trayvon, who is dead, and Zimmermann, who argues his actions were performed in self-defense, the court case must be based on the actual evidence found. The cops told Zimmermann to not act and to retreat, but he ignored and there was an altercation. Next, Martin was not found to have any weapon or have performed any threatening actions (as witnesses confirm that Martin was just walking down the street). Lastly, Zimmermann’s use of a gun in self –defense could be considered excessive force. Considering these things and the evidence found in the month or so since the death of Trayvon Martin, the court case should be moving forward. Unfortunately, the case has been slowed; the police acted in a way that suggests that the proper procedure was not followed. In the last month, the case has started drawing national attention (perhaps the only positive of this case). The focus of this case has been focused on the races of the victim and the assailant. Is this truly an occurrence of racism hurting the possibility for justice? In my opinion, it is. If this case dealt with a victim who was not a minority, the attention of the case would be more focused on what happened and the case would be resolved more quickly. The race of Trayvon, which has pulled much attention nationally, may be taking over the focus of the case; whether it was an act of racism or not is now the major focus, rather than the terrible action. In my opinion, for this case to be solved the facts of the case must be laid out and the decision must be made on actually evidence (not whether or not the gunman may have been racist — I mean, whether or not he was racist, he is guilty of killing Trayvon Martin and the focus should be on that). As the case is still not resolved, I am curious to find out how the case will be dealt with and if there will be any decisions made that can improve aspects of the criminal justice system or that may promote actually equality in the United States.

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