Trayvon Martin and Dutch Ninjas

"Excuse me, Mr. Springsteen--Those are some nice jeans you got there... You're going to have to come with us."

I was racially profiled in college once. For those of you don’t know, that race is…. Uh, I guess “caucasian?” I belong to the Dutch race. Netherlandic, I suppose? I don’t know–I’m a white guy. And I went to a college with a whole bunch of other white people–Many of them also Dutch, or “Netherlandic Americans” as we like to be called. I was minding my own business outside of one of the dorms, and a Campus Security person walked up shining a flashlight (the closest thing our Campus Security had to any sort of  weapon) my way. I think that when I saw the beam, I jokingly hid behind a tree trunk, employing my finely honed skills as a Dutch Ninja–Easily the deadliest (and most thrifty) of all ninjas. The next thing I knew, I was being detained. I was told that I “fit the description” of a person who just attempted some sort of sexual assault on Campus. That description? A white male wearing jeans and a T-shirt….

It was the one with the stutter and the limp.

They decided to attempt a line-up, only like a really screwed up line-up with me as the only person being ID’ed–I think they got confused. I would stand outside the glass door of the dorm lobby and the girl (accompanied by a bunch of other girls in order to protect the identity of the accuser–sort of the exact reverse of an actual police line-up) would come out and let security people know if I was the guy. We laughed as we walked over to her dorm at the insanity of it all…. I stopped laughing when I entertained this one thought: What if this girl looks at me and says, “THAT’S HIM!!” Then I got nervous. As I stood there outside the lobby awaiting my fate, a mass of college girls came out into the lobby. I can’t be sure, but I think the one who was ID’ing me was the one in the middle–The one who was crying with six different girls comforting her as she shook her head letting the security guy know he could holster his flashlight. I felt very naked, standing there…. I think I might have waved a “Hi, I’m not a rapist” sort of wave.

I found out later that the “attempted sexual assault” this girl experienced was actually just a guy walking out of the bushes as she was walking by herself. He never even touched her. It was probably just some poor guy taking a shortcut as he walked and he came out next to a high-strung co-ed who was feeling a little nervous and vulnerable and afraid and screamed and ran off.

When you see this picture, the appropriate response is sadness and outrage--not over "race-baiting" media, but over the tragic end of a young life.

I haven’t thought of this story in a while, but I was reminded of it recently after the killing of Trayvon Martin. I posted something on my facebook page right after I heard the story. At that point, it sounded like just another tragic killing: Black kid walking in a white neighborhood gets gunned down for “looking suspicious” (read: “black”) sort of thing–Tragic, but there are stupid people everywhere. There had been some break-ins in that neighborhood, and maybe this Zimmerman guy was nervous and afraid when he saw this out-of-place black man walking through his neighborhood, just like the sexual assault girl was feeling at my college (thank goodness SHE didn’t have a gun). However, over the past couple days, the nation’s reaction to this tragic story has taken a far more shameful turn.

I think that many people were uncomfortable with the story as they first heard it, because the awful injustice of it all sounded too clear-cut: “Wait, you’re telling me that an armed, white “Neighborhood Watch” guy called in a 911 call because he saw a black kid walking down the road with a hoodie on? He was following this kid as he walked, and when the kid started running (whoever ran first–we don’t know) he chased after him even though the 911 operator told him not to? Then when this unarmed kid, who was chased and tackled by someone he didn’t know, fought back ON HIS BACK, he was shot in the chest as he cried out for help? AND THEN THE GUY WHO SHOT HIM WASN’T EVEN ARRESTED!?!?!” I think that people were actually relieved when they heard that George Zimmerman’s head was bleeding, like that was proof that this was actually a case of self defense. But I have a question: Since when does “self defense” look like a man with a gun (who witnessed no one committing a crime of any sort) running after an unarmed kid and shooting him in the stomach? I don’t care what state you’re in. This is murder.

The only one of these young, black men who was shot and killed is the one in the bottom-right corner. The other two are NOT HIM. But really.... SHOULD IT MATTER?

“Wait!” people cried. “It turns out George Zimmerman wasn’t REALLY white! His dad was white and his mom was Peruvian. That makes him sort of Hispanic.” As if Hispanic people are incapable of racial profiling because they are a minority as well… And then, I think an even more dubious part of white America let out another sigh of relief when they found out that Trayvon had been suspended from school. Then, after it was leaked that his suspension was because they had found trace amounts of marijuana in a baggie in his book bag, people believed the shooting was even something close to justified. Like, “See? He wasn’t such a good kid after all.” This sort of sentiment is portrayed in the comment of a New Orleans police officer who wrote “Act like a thug, die like one!” on a thread discussing the Trayvon Martin killing. It’s shown in the picture of a black kid with no shirt on, saggin’ pants, flipping off the camera that people said was a picture of Trayvon. Of course it wasn’t, but when people saw the picture, it made the bitter pill that is this kid’s death a little easier to swallow. Here’s the thing: I don’t care if this kid smoked the whole baggie of pot, sagged his pants below his underwear, and had a 24 karat grill in his mouth–this kid got shot and killed on his back with a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Tea in his pocket! If you are defending his killing there is something very VERY wrong with you.

If you don't think race is a big part of this whole controversy, you are just plain wrong.

President Obama, while talking about Trayvon, said the words “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” And that’s just it. When you think about this in a way that says “What if this were my kid? things start to change. What if this were my brother? Or my friend. What if this were me? What if I had decided to run when that campus security guard started coming toward me? What if, instead of a flashlight, he had been carrying a gun? What if, when he caught up to me, I fought back and got in a couple of good licks? Would that make it alright for that security guard to put a bullet though my chest? What if I was wearing a hoodie? I’ve smoked pot before–would that fact make my death more palatable? Well, I AM TRAYVON MARTIN. And if there can be no justice in this case because of stupid laws or stupid detectives, the least you can do is not try to justify my murder just to make yourself feel better.

I am Trayvon Martin.

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9 Responses to Trayvon Martin and Dutch Ninjas

  1. anonymous says:

    I say this with the utmost respect. I happened across this from a friend. I respect your opinion, but I want to discuss this…. not to try to persuade you. But just to discuss….

    Nobody really knows the all the facts of what happened. If you read some of the transcripts of the 911 calls Zimmerman is asked if he is following Martin at one point, he says yes, the dispatcher says “We don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman replied “OK” For all any of us know he may or may not have followed Martin after that request.

    Murder is murder, yes. But there are lots of different stories going around. And a lot of media bias. I am not claiming at all that the death of Martin is at all more justified because of his suspension from school or pictures of what he looks like now instead of 4 years ago but the bias that has been presented in the media has been immense so I think there are people out there trying to even out the bias with more bias (not saying this is good -just an observation). For example – if you compare the 6-7 year old picture of Zimmerman that 95% of media is using to one now there is a significant difference.

    And why this one murder? What about the other thousands of murders that go unnoticed outside of the community? What if race really had nothing to do with this case and everyone is blowing it into a hate crime? What about the bounty on Zimmerman’s head from the Black Panthers? Is that justified because of public opinion on this man? Is it not racist for them to place a bounty on this white man for killing a black boy but not the black guys for killing other black kids? What if someone kills this man – is it justified? And will there be a public outcry for the person that committed premeditated murder? Why has nobody locked up members of that group for basically planning the murder or torture of Zimmerman?

    Innocent until proven guilty, right? Please know I am NOT endorsing or justifying the killing of an innocent young teenager. All I am trying to convey is how the justice system works. People would flip if the police could keep you in jail without probable cause. This man was taken into custody and they did not have enough evidence to keep him. If it does turn out that this man is innocent / it comes out it really was self defense this man is pretty much screwed either way due to the public opinion.
    If it turns out he’s guilty then he will spend his life in jail most likely.
    And if he is actually guilty but gets off on lack of evidence then he can make his peace with whichever God he so chooses.
    Either way the justice system needs to do its job and not let the social media and public sway the investigation process.
    But we as imperfect humans have no right to judge something in which we don’t have all the facts.

    My apologies for the length… just trying to talk myself through my though process.

    • theboeskool says:

      Hey anonymous,
      Thanks for reading. I’m not endorsing the Black Panthers or saying what they did is in any way appropriate. I’m also not saying the George Zimmerman is guilty–That is the sort of stuff for a trial to figure out, right?

      I’m basically saying a couple things: 1) I think that, any way you look at it, there is enough evidence to at least charge him with a crime. He chased after a kid, who was not breaking the law in any way, and shot and killed him. Charges should be filed. If Treyvon had been carrying a gun, it would have been within his rights as well to shoot Zimmerman in self defense as well. I’m betting that there would have been charges filed there.

      And 2) The second thing I’m writing about is how these pictures of Trayvon with a fake grill in his mouth or his shirt off or tattoos or flipping the bird or even stories about him getting suspended from school for them finding a baggie with pot residue–None of these things make this situation okay. It is based in fear and hate and, YES, racism. I did some really dumb things in high school and said some pretty awful thing as well. I can’t imagine if something like this happened to me and then people started giving examples of things I had done wrong in high school just to show that I “wasn’t as great of a kid as my parents thought I was.” High school kids make mistakes–that’s what they do. That does not make it okay for this guy to think TM “looked suspicious,” chase after him, confront him after being told not to by the 911 opperator, and then put a bullet in his chest. I don’t care if the kid sassed off or even threw a punch (which now, witnesses are saying that the struggle happened all on grass and not on cement as GZ claimed. Also, video shows GZ not having a cut on his head or a broken nose–for what it’s worth). Throwing a punch does not legitimaize firing a gun. Charges should be filled, then let a jury sort it out.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hey,
        I was not mentioning that you thought Zimmerman was guilty- but as you mention that there is ‘enough evidence to charge him’ that is also not for us as the public to decide. We see the ‘facts’ as the media likes to sway them. Which is why there are so many damn stories out there.
        If I was in the police department and knew all of the facts first hand maybe my opinion would be different. But I am not, and I don’t so I have tried to stay neutral. Maybe it’s naive but sometimes I just like to let the justice system do its work. Without the whole world giving their opinion.
        And like I mentioned before, I never said the fake photos of Trayvon were ok. But you have to ask yourself– why are the media sources using the photos they are using? Certainly there is a more recent picture of both people involved.
        And yes. High schoolers make mistakes. I surely made lots of them. But as a 23 year old I still make mistakes. And more mistakes as I get older. We all make mistakes at all ages.
        There is a lot of conflicting evidence out there. I agree. One being that Martin’s father identified the voice yelling ‘help’ on some of the 911 calls as not being his sons voice. Again. I am not saying that Zimmerman is innocent or guilty. Or that Martin in any situation deserved to die the way he did.
        But my main point is- WE don’t know the facts. We see what is given to us by media. Let the prosecutor decide if there is enough evidence to charge this man. But good luck finding a non-biased jury at this point.

        Just ramblings. My apologies. Just haven’t figured out where I stand on this…. Or if I want to take a stand on this.
        Maybe it’s that I refuse to be spoon fed everything the tv will throw at me. No idea. Maybe I just feel like half the nation is looking for vengeance and not justice.

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