February 26, 2012 – Sanford, Florida…a date that represents another tragic day in our nation that will sadly be filed annals of our American history.
The shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin at the hands of 28-year-old neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman sparked angry protests across the country.
The protests were fueled by the fact Trayvon Martin was unarmed at the time of the incident, and that George Zimmerman was not charged or arrested for any offense related to the shooting for up to 46 days.
This death illustrates our continued inability as a nation to create and implement strategies that will allow us to work together in unison to solve our common problems, and work to construct an environment where liberty, equality and justice prevail.
The life of Trayvon Martin has senselessly ended. The families of both parties have been devastated, and Mr. Zimmerman sits in jail waiting for a trial date (a trial date which unfortunately may not come in 2012).
Zimmerman sits and waits...while a nation stands and watches.
The history of our government, since its inception in 1787, has been besieged with the issue of race and the dispensation of fair justice. Racial profiling can be traced back as far as the early 1500’s, when King Charles I required Native Americans to convert to Roman Catholicism or face persecution.
So it stands to reason today that we would naturally be outraged over the possible occurrence of another tragic race-related death resulting from the practice of racial profiling.
But there now has been an arrest in the case; protests against Mr. Zimmerman and the justice system have subsided, and the debate on how to improve race relations in America has been renewed.
We are all understandably angered and hurt by the circumstances we are presently faced with as a result of the death of Trayvon Martin, but we have seemingly found some comfort in renewing the race relations debate and yielding to the criminal justice system - allowing the process to take its course.
What happened to the outrage?
We have been debating race relations in America for well over 200 years. Where do we find comfort in that?
We should be furious at the fact that after the decades of protests, riots and deaths in this nation; after the formation of countless committees, community and government organizations; and after the changing of laws that directly addressed issues of racial inequality, we still, as Americans, have remained divided - completely incapable of resolving any of our issues when it comes to relating with one another across racial lines.
We should be outraged that we are still fighting against one another to achieve a mutual goal of preserving our civil rights.
We profess to the world on a daily basis that we have the best system of government – a system of government that is by and for the people. Yet, when it comes to how we view and subsequently treat one another, we fall miserably short.
It is time for us to recognize that not only does the debate needs to end, but that its ending is past due. If we cannot collectively agree (now) across all ethnic and racial lines to exercise the courage necessary to bring an end to the race relations debate, then when can we agree?
And just think; if we had developed a vision for resolve and ended the “race relations debate” years ago, George Zimmerman might not be sitting in jail right now for second-degree murder, and Trayvon Martin would probably still be here with us…sitting at home with his family.