I did not intend to make any comment about the Trayvon Martin case as I thought there was plenty of thoughtful commentary on it already, but I’ve been reading too many blogs on it today, and it seems to me that many people are missing the point. As I see it, it does not matter whether George Zimmerman is Hispanic. It doesn’t matter whether Trayvon got into trouble in school (how many teenaged boys never get in trouble at school?), wore gold fronts on his teeth for a camera, or tried to act tough. If Trayvon’s problems make him deserving of death, then many people I love and admire would fall in the same category. How many of us want to be judged for the decisions we made when we were 16 and 17 years old? And it doesn’t matter that many other teenagers are murdered every year. This case is different.
It is different because of the police response to it. It is different because the police say they did not have enough evidence to arrest anyone, but they do not appear to have made much effort to gather evidence. They seem to have spent more time trying to find evidence Trayvon was up to no good than they spent trying to find out whether he was the victim of stalking and murder. The police seem to have dismissed the case as just another death of a young, black criminal. They seem surprised that anyone cared enough about Trayvon to pursue the case and try to get the facts.
Yes, it is a tragedy when anyone is murdered, but it is an outrage that young men of a particular color are viewed as disposable human beings by many in our society. That someone’s life could be of so little value that it is deemed unworthy of investigation is appalling.