Trayvon Martin

Let’s set aside the discussion for a minute on whether George Zimmerman should have been convicted of manslaughter. Or whether Trayvon Martin was the aggressor and George Zimmerman simply acted in self defense.

Let’s discuss an issue that is real and happening throughout our country even today.  An issue, that if not properly understood, will keep many of my white brothers and sisters from comprehending why our black brothers and sisters are so upset over the “not guilty” verdict of George Zimmerman.

First, let me state that I am thankful that George Zimmerman wanted to serve his community. I believe our communities and cities would be better off if everyone was a concerned citizen. Too often, it is easy to become focused with our own time and families, that we cease to become our “brothers keeper”.

My concern is this. What did George observe that focused his attention on Trayvon being a threat to his community? What caused him to call the police in the first place? What caused him to follow Trayvon? Was it that Trayvon was wearing a hoodie? (Well, it was February 26 in Florida.) Was it that he was a teen? (I’m sure this community had many teens who were law abiding.) Was it that he was ducking by buildings? (It was raining. Who doesn’t seek cover in rain?) Was it that Zimmerman didn’t recognize him? (Possible, but this still wouldn’t be a valid reason to believe that he was robbing homes.)

“Hey, we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there’s a real suspicious guy,” he told the police operator. “This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining, and he’s just walking around looking about.”

What made Trayvon look like a “real suspicious guy” to Zimmerman? According to the police this was the fifth time in a year that he had alerted authorities to the presence of a black male he found suspicious. Now, I don’t know for a fact that he called the police because Trayvon was black. Nobody but George Zimmerman knows that definitively.  But he appeared to have no legitimate reason to claim that Trayvon was a “real suspicious guy”.

The question many of my white brothers and sisters are probably asking is, “What’s the big deal? Who cares if he was being followed? Who cares if someone considered him to be suspicious?”

Imagine being a 17 year old boy who has spent the past few years of your life knowing that every time you walked into a store, you most likely would be followed by an employee. Imagine driving to the mall with your friends in a different part of the city and having the police pull you over and harass you because you “don’t look like you belong”. Imagine walking through a neighborhood unlike yours and having a grown man, twice your body size follow you and ask, “What you were doing there”, as though there could be  no way you belong.

This is sadly the norm for young, black men. Many white/ hispanic Americans have the image engrained in their minds (through media, news, etc) that black males are always up to something illegal. They steal, sell drugs, fight, gang bang, and murder. When a young black male graduates college or does something good, he is an anomaly, he is not the norm. As parents well know, children often fulfill our prophecies about them.

If we treat someone as a thug, there is a better chance they will become a thug. If we treat someone as though they will never “make it” in life, there’s a better chance they probably won’t. If we treat someone as “real suspicious”, there’s a better chance they will give us a reason to be suspicious.

Not to say that Trayvon became the fulfillment of George Zimmerman’s prophecy. It is impossible to definitively know who threw the first punch or who was the aggressor. But could there come a day that you’ve had enough? That as a 17 year old boy, transitioning into manhood, that you are tired of people treating you like a criminal?

There is much more that can be discussed in this case, but I truly believe this is an appropriate place to start. For if George Zimmerman hadn’t determined Trayvon to be a “real suspicious guy” by mere outward appearance, there is one definitive point in this discussion. Trayvon would not have died as a 17 year old boy that day in February 2012. Who knows, maybe he would have grown to become a young black man that proved many of us white brothers and sisters to be false prophets.

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About visionnehemiah

Servant of Jesus Christ. Husband of Heidi Dye. Elder at Legacy Fellowship. Mentorship Director at GRIP Outreach for Youth. Director of Legacy Conference.
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7 Responses to Trayvon Martin

  1. A concerned christian says:

    I am very disappointed in this post, as it is doing nothing to help the race issue but further divide and even feed lies to people. This is also very one sided. Yes, Zimmerman recently reported other black males in their neighborhood, but you failed to also share that he has also called the cops on suspicious white males and females as well. So to justify your opinion that he called the cops because Trayvon was black using previous phone call history is misguided. Also, if Zimmerman called the cops because he thought trayvon was suspicious because he was black, then he would have told dispatch there is a suspicious black young male, however Zimmerman did not describe trayvon in this way. It was rather dispatch that asked and Zimmerman said I think black, which shows he did not know if trayvon was black, which shows that is not why he called the police. Also, to only state that white/Hispanics look at a black male a certain that they are up to no good is very biased. This is your opinion and is it not true that blacks also are suspicious of blacks?? But you failed to put in your post that it is sad whites, Hispanics, and even blacks view young black males in a certain light. Also, Zimmerman is not twice the size of trayvon… According to the media pictures it appears this way, but trayvon was in fact 5’11 and around 165lbs… This is not a little boy. Zimmerman did not approach trayvon, according to Trayvon’s friend’s testimony he approached zimmerman after referring to him as a cuss word cracker on the phone to his friend and asked why he was following him. If you are going to share a post like this, please make sure all the facts are correct and you do so in a manner that is not biased or based off emotions.

    • Thank you for your concern. I will take a minute to respond. 1) Regarding me supposedly assuming that Zimmerman called the police because Trayvon was black. My exact statement is as follows: “According to the police this was the fifth time in a year that he had alerted authorities to the presence of a black male he found suspicious. Now, I don’t know for a fact that he called the police because Trayvon was black. Nobody but George Zimmerman knows that definitively. But he appeared to have no legitimate reason to claim that Trayvon was a “real suspicious guy”. I then go on to explain what many young black men live with. The fact that many places they go, they are considered “suspicious”. My point is to explain what was possibly going on in the psyche of Trayvon’s mind and why he might have very well been angry. 2) Regarding me stating that white/ hispanic brothers and sisters view black men in this way, while in reality blacks also view them in this way. Obviously I guess you can make the case that this is true. There will be some who have this view. But it is definitely more commonplace amongst those who are not black. The reality is that people’s feelings on the determination of this case is pretty clearly divided on racial lines. 3) Regarding my comment about Zimmerman being “twice the size of Trayvon”, I actually said twice the weight. Which, is still not accurate. Trayvon was 17 and 158 pounds. Zimmerman was 28 and 185 pounds. That is a huge difference in weight and strength. But either way, my case was never in this post to say who beat who up. The statement was in, once again, to help us understand what could have been going on in the psyche of Trayvon. Trayvon, a 17 year old boy, was followed by a 28 year old man in a neighborhood that he didn’t know well. How would you feel if you were Trayvon?

      • Nathanial Poling says:

        The real question is how would you feel if you were someone that lived in that neighborhood. I am not sure if you have ever lived in the suburbs or even a gated community but it is a lot different than living in the city. For one, people don’t normally run in people’s yards between houses no matter the weather… This is considered suspicious behavior no matter the color of your skin which is probably why Zimmerman couldn’t tell the dispatcher what his race was. I think this is one of the top things that people who just watched the biased media sound bites of this case never understood. Most people who live in the suburbs don’t question this part of the story, the part that was under question was whether Zimmerman was justified in using lethal force. A jury heard piles upon piles of evidence and ruled that Zimmerman acted in self defense since he was attacked by Martin. If you want to question that, go ahead because no one really knows what happened except 2 people, one of which was tragically killed. The other was noticeably beat up after the encounter and distraught that he had to kill another human being. The racial profiling angle is a reach at best if you listened to the full tape of the phone call. You brought up that Zimmerman had called in other suspicious black males in the past but you also forgot to mention that numerous robberies had been committed in that community by young black males. Could those 2 things be connected, maybe but in Martin’s case Zimmerman clearly had no clue of his race when he called.

  2. jazejas says:

    I have tried to remain mostly silent on this issue as far as social media goes, even stayed away from social media as I thought such a tragedy/tough case would cause so much turmoil and the depravity of man to “shine through” like nobody’s business. I wanted to be free to pray for George Zimmerman and family like I would pray for the family of Trayvon Martin. I needed nobody helping me to hate mr Zimmerman or to be angry with my white brother or sister who “didn’t get it” or thinks we should get over it. …not to mention just being so hurt or just really not knowing how to feel. I only knew I wanted/ still want to honor God. … I’d like to answer your question with a personal experience of mine which affected me greatly though even then others “didn’t get it” and probably thought I should “get over it”…

    I spent a weekend over a friends house-now Im talking a VERY close friend- one of my BEST FRIENDS still (Hispanic). So we end up going over the house of a friend of hers who I didn’t know where she would be getting her hair done. So we are in the apartment complex and she calls her friend or the friend called her and as we are walking she freely says over the phone (in front of me, a black girl) sort of whispering or in a lower voice “yea Im coming, I’m scared, there are all these black guys out here.” … I thought wow this is what you think of us? She didn’t even know she had said something wrong. This is what everybody thinks of you right? Now the point of all this was not for me to show you an example of a racist. I am sure that my best friend is not racist or at least anymore racist than the next person. I don’t say this to say my friend might have done the same thing in a situation like this as I think there were many factors in George Zimmermans mind and heart- awful awful judgement and super cop aspirations among them. I am not convinced that Zimmerman said “I see a black man I want to kill him I hate them” but I am very convinced that he (Trayvon) was “suspicious” because he was a young black male. Had this been a white male he would have never been thought to be “out of place” he would have never been troubled.

  3. Claris says:

    Thought you may have missed this and would like to read it: http://www.inquisitr.com/847663/george-zimmerman-racism-he-helped-black-people/ I’ll try to comment later.

  4. Claris says:

    Trayvon didn’t die because George Zimmerman thought he was “a real, suspicious guy.” He died because he chose to fight, and perhaps, kill. No matter what he felt, no matter how much resentment was built up inside of him, he didn’t have to act on those feelings. This would be a good time to discuss that, but I doubt the topic will ever come up—in the media anyway.

    The FBI found no evidence that Zimmerman was racist. Have you read the following story about Zimmerman coming to the defense of a black man who was beaten? See: https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/trayvon-martin-shooting-george-zimmerman-protested-treatment-homeless-black-man-police-father-article-1.1057162. There are other examples of him mentoring homeless blacks, taking a black girl to the prom, etc.

    Being part of the neighborhood watch, Zimmerman felt a responsibility to follow Trayvon. There had been several burglaries in the gated community. If you saw someone walking in-between houses late at night (into early morning?), in the rain with a hoodie that you never saw before in your neighborhood, wouldn’t you wonder what he was doing? Wouldn’t you be concerned? [Note: Trayvon was not the 12-year old helpless boy that was portrayed by the media over and over again. Trayvon was over 6 foot and about 163 lbs and in good shape physically.] Zimmerman would have been wise to have stayed in his car. But, it wasn’t illegal for him to follow Trayvon either.

    If you listened to the whole trial, it was quite evident that the prosecution simply had no case. Martin had 4 minutes to walk home; or, he could have attempted to talk with George and explain what he was doing or where he was going. Instead, he chose to confront Zimmerman, break his nose, and pound his head continuously into the cement. Wouldn’t you think your life was in danger if someone had just punched you in the face, you were in pain from a broken nose, and then the person grabbed your head, slammed it repeatedly into the cement and told you (according to testimony), “you’re going to die tonight”? Were there any other marks on Trayvon’s body to show that Zimmerman punched him first or even got in a punch at all?

    I can’t second guess what was going through Trayvon’s mind. You could probably come up with several different things. He could have been angry because he was guilty of something and didn’t want to be caught. He could have gotten frustrated and upset because he thought Zimmerman was “profiling” him for no good reason since he hadn’t done anything and didn’t deserve to be spied on. If the latter was the case, how do you help others combat those feelings when you have leaders like Al Sharpton fueling hatred against those they judge to be racist (with no evidence to support their claims)? These leaders aren’t healing, they’re dividing. Also, the fact that the Department of Justice had their people go to Florida to rally in protest against Zimmerman before the trial, is something I have never heard of. The hypocrisy of this is unbelievable. Holder’s DOJ allowed guns to be given to drug cartels who used them to kill Brian Terry and hundreds of others. Yet, Holder receives executive privilege from the president? (Brian Terry is white and others killed, Mexican.) In addition, Holder is now setting up a hotline for anyone to call in and give tips as to possible racial prejudice of George Zimmerman? Really? Where is the hot line for Fast & Furious, Benghazi, the IRS….etc. There seems to be a double standard and an agenda here the president and the DOJ are using that, I think, goes far beyond race. (Sidepoint: according to latest news, the racial slurs the media tried to paint Zimmerman with were dis-proven.)

    I believe the jury made their decision based solely on the facts–in spite of all the political and racial pressure being placed upon them. Whether or not Trayvon’s parents and others will be able in time to accept the outcome, is another story. Now, Zimmerman’s life is in danger, his family is getting death threats and are in hiding, and we’ve seen myriad protests and violence occurring. The divisiveness of the aforesaid leaders helped to bring this about. Instead of accepting what the FBI and jurors have found, they are getting people riled up, causing them want revenge, not justice. How does this help race relations?

    I can’t imagine the pain Martin’s parents are going through, but Zimmerman’s parents are also suffering, though in another way. They don’t know if they’ll see their son again either. (The Black Panther party has basically put a bounty on their son’s head.) They seemed very sincere when expressing how sorry they were to the Martin family. They also explained they aren’t racist, they are “color-blind”, and I tend to believe them after hearing and watching their interview with B. Walters. They are also known for helping others in the community.

    Only God knows for sure what was in the minds of Zimmerman and Trayvon and what all happened that sad night. Those who claim to be Christians, as hard as it may be, need to rest in that fact and give their cares and burdens to Him. Justice in a human court of law was served. Instead of whipping of more racial hatred, we need to glean whatever we can from this tragedy.

    As a pastor, please try to bring peace–not more racial division.

    p.s. This was posted by a friend of mine: http://thecripplegate.com/thabiti-on-the-myth-of-race/

  5. Tim Crook says:

    Sir,

    I really Struggle with this post for two reasons. 1. Mr. Martin was a criminal, in fact under US Law one could classify him as a drug dealer, based on evidence on his phone. Mr. Zimmerman profiled correctly. Secondly, I find it troublesome that this posting is somewhat devoid of factual information. Consider what the DOJ actually says about Crime and Gangs ( Crime/Homicide: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/vgm03.pdf%20 Gangs: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/htus8008.pdf). There is a reason that people profile and that reason is that it is in general accurate.

    The issue is simply put, in communities where 70+% of children are born out of wedlock, and grow up without a stable family, what else can we expect?

    The problem isn’t profiling, the problem is how the black community allows member of that community to function.

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