Can Justice Be Served?

Every few weeks, a member of the Xi Xi Chapter of Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority, Inc. tackles a diversity-related topic that interests her and posts her thoughts for the intellectual benefit of all.

Members of the Xi Xi Chapter represent a variety of races, cultures, religions, backgrounds, and lifestyles.  Each woman’s unique voice and perspective push the entire chapter out of its comfort zone and into real understanding of the world around us.  It is only when we recognize and appreciate difference that we gain the ability to critically engage our own worldviews.

Can Justice Be Served? – M. Musco

I think almost everyone has heard about the Trayvon Martin case, but in case you’ve missed the last couple of weeks of news, here’s a recap: Trayvon, a 17-year-old black teenager, was making his way through a gated community one evening to visit friends. As he was walking, George Zimmerman, who had appointed himself to the community’s neighborhood watch, began following Trayvon while simultaneously calling the local police department to report Trayvon as a suspicious presence. The police told Zimmerman to stop following Trayvon, but George ignored them.

Trayvon, meanwhile, became concerned that someone was trailing him and put his hood up. No one knows exactly what happened next, but when police arrived at the scene Trayvon was dead from gunshot wounds and George was claiming he had acted in self-defense.

"Trayvon Martin" - Courtesy of marcusfranklineonline.com

Though we may never know the specific details of what happened that night, it’s pretty safe to say that this was a racially-motivated act. Why, after all, was an adult suspicious of a teenager who was doing nothing more than walking while wearing a hoodie? Why did this adult ignore the police’s repeated requests to stop following Trayvon? And why would George need to shoot an unarmed person in the chest? The only answer that makes sense is that Zimmerman was paranoid and unquestionably biased about black men in his neighborhood.

As this case goes forward – with George still not under arrest or facing any kind of prosecution – many different people in the media have weighed in on this tragedy. Most are horrified over the innocent killing of a teenager, but some who deny that there was any racial component to this shooting are bending over backwards to paint Trayvon as a threatening presence.

The latest defense of George comes courtesy of student newspaper cartoonist Stephanie Eisner from the University of Texas-Austin. In a cartoon, Eisner portrays the media as “yellow journalists” who are promoting a story about a “colored boy” at the expense of white people. The cartoon is pretty horrifying, in both its message (that white-on-black crime is myth) and its delivery (“colored” is a very outdated and offensive term for a black person). But what’s even more disturbing is that a modern college student, who grew up in a more tolerant atmosphere than her ancestors, would not only espouse these views but also feel justified in publishing them.

I can only hope that those who defend Zimmerman can have access to the unbiased facts of this case and form a more sensible opinion. And I hope that Trayvon and his family get the justice they deserve.


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