When we achieve justice for one of us, we achieve it for all of us.

The shooting of Trayvon Martin didn’t just hurt his family and friends, it hurts all of us.

Many of the students who come in my classroom already have a problem with the color of my skin; complexity of ethnicity not visible to their eyes. All they see is labels that experience has taught them, not the people underneath.

Experience has taught them that “white” folks aren’t to be trusted, the police even less… You can argue against me all you want.  You can tell me about the racism that you have experience. We can trade stories back and forth, but it won’t change the fact that a young black man was shot in the back for just walking down the street and his killer hasn’t been arrested. It won’t change the fact that instead of showing how far we have come from the days of segregation when Justice was far from blind, we are now confronted it just how far short of the dream we have fallen.

Media personalities have blamed what the young man was wearing and I am sure that there are some that support the gunman’s right to protect himself.  But, if the man who shot the teen never goes to trial and the evidence heard in open court, how can we ever really be sure that justice has been done?

I don’t think that the law is too blame but the implementation of it.  If the gentleman’s action are justifiable under the law then let him stand trial and prove it in a court of law. The Orlando Sentinel recently reported more facts in the case, including Zimmerman’s statements to the police.  This place Trayvon in a negative light. The timing of the statement’s release as well as witness statements seems a little too late.

The case has awoken tensions that can’t be quieted by a news report.  Media personalities have stirred the pot and their words took on a life of their own.  Some blaming the victim, others blaming the law. If it was Zimmerman’s story is true then he has been done a disservice by the media and the police.

Blaming the victim for what they were wearing makes no sense.  Yes, hoodies can make a person look mysterious on a warm day, but a February night even in Florida is chilly.  Hell, I have worn my hoodie to walk down the street to get a snack.  Maybe I was spared because of the big Mickey Mouse symbol on the front or the translucent nature of my skin in winter.

Still, does it really matter? Does the color of our skin still matter so much these days that we will excuse the killing of an unarmed young man because of it?  My students after watching the coverage might be even more inclined to say yes. And I can’t blame them; there is even a part of me that agrees.  There is just too much evidence to dismiss it even if it goes against what I want to believe.

Justice won’t be served by debating or blaming the victim’s fashion choice. It needs to be decided by a jury, after all isn’t our justice system one of the things that makes us great and separates us our “enemies.”

Justice also needs to be served in the case of Shaima Alawadi who has succumb to the injuries she received from an intruder who invaded her home.  He left a note; directing her terrorist family to go home.  The family has been in the country for over twenty years; long before 9-11 and before the majority of my students were born. Her children were raised in America, not Iraq, as if that matters in the end. Both her and her husband worked for the U.S. Army has cultural advisers to help out troops in the Middle East.   She was one of us and like Trayvon; she deserves justice.

Justice for them is justice for us all; and America that includes Mr. Zimmerman as well.


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