Mike’s Musings- Stop playing the race card

July 19, 2013

Michael Wilcox, Publisher/Editor

Zimmerman jurors got it right. Why is “race” still an issue in 21st Century America?

I really thought as a society we had gotten past that issue but the George Zimmerman trial seems to have brought it to the forefront.

For those who act like an ostrich, and have their head in the sand most of the time, Zimmerman was tried by a jury of his peers in Sanford, Florida this past month for shooting a 17-year-old African-American named Trayvon Martin.

He was acquitted of all charges last Saturday, which sparked outrage from the African-American community as well as many Caucasians who believed he was guilty.

In my opinion, the jury did what it had to do. The State and local officials didn’t think they had a case to prosecute in the beginning but buckled under pressure from the African American community. In the end there was little evidence that Zimmerman did anything legally wrong, although he was guilty of poor judgment. He should have stayed in his car, and not followed Trayvon on foot.

That hasn’t stopped Trayvon sympathizers however from having their say. Those that will use any excuse to riot and loot, took to the streets in Los Angeles and Oakland. President Obama has kept quiet, but he said before the trial if he had a son, he would want him to be just like Trayvon. Instead he’s had Attorney General Eric Holder do his bidding. Holder has been making speeches to African American groups blasting “hold your ground” laws that exist in 26 states including Michigan and Florida.
He also told another audience that the Justice Department is looking into the case to see if there is any way they can prosecute Zimmerman on civil rights violations.

Most legal experts claim that to be a waste of time. They and the one juror, a chiropractor, that has spoken out, have said this was not a case based on racial issues. Some in the media and African-American community would like to make it as such, but in reality it was only about an overzealous neighborhood watch, wannabe cop, fighting with a Black teen who was on the cellphone describing Zimmerman as a “creepy ass cracker.”

Despite Obama’s declaration and others depicting Trayvon as a small child who was minding his own business before he was shot and killed by Zimmerman, the real Trayvon was less than perfect. To call him a child is ridiculous. He was 6’4”, a high school dropout and had a Facebook profile that deified guns and drugs. Evidence shows he pummeled Zimmerman- pounding his head into the concrete over and over, until he was shot.

I say it’s time to move on. The City of Sanford has suffered enough. Having lived 25 miles from this town of 53,000 for several years, I have visited it many times (it has a great airport that I’ve used to fly to Michigan on several occasions) and isn’t deserving of the backwater racist town that some in the media have proclaimed it to be.

More importantly it’s time for this nation to move on. We need to stop playing the “race card” any time there is a verbal or physical altercation between black and white. Race should no longer be an issue. I know it helps pay for Al Sharpton’s lavish lifestyle. Ditto Jesse Jackson. I know there is still a small segment of our society that is bigoted, but they don’t amount to much.

I choose to believe, the 21st Century is much more enlightened than the early 20th Century. We are a nation of many colors and races, and for the most part, I truly believe we get along despite our differences. I hope you believe that too.

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3 Responses to Mike’s Musings- Stop playing the race card

  1. Catherine59 Reply

    July 21, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    July 19, 2013

    Dear Editor Wilcox,
    I hope you will print my reaction to your column “Stop Playing the Race Card”. First, I want to make a correction in regard to your comment about President Obama. You write that Obama said “if he had a son, he would want him to be just like Trayvon (Martin)”. What he actually said was if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin. There is a significant difference in the meaning of what you report in your column and Obama’s actual words. This is especially pertinent because I did not feel your portrayal of Trayvon was very positive.
    I understand the feelings of the black community after this trial. There has been a long history of slavery, discrimination, poverty, lynchings, distrust and hurt right up until fairly recent times. You don’t easily erase that. When an incident like this happens, it brings it all up again. Think of the parallel with the war veteran who has flashbacks years later about his war traumas. It is not so dissimilar. And, I believe, these continual traumas can be intergenerational.
    Some of the other concerns I have with your editorial are:
    •”…Zimmerman was tried by a jury of his peers…” yet none of those peers included an African-American. It is hard for me to see how you can have 5 Caucasians and 1 Hispanic on a jury without including at least one African American. A jury should be representative of the diversity of the people in both the local community and on the trial itself and it wasn’t. The local community is 30% black and 20% hispanic. Yet, 5 of 6 jurors were white females.
    • I agree that Zimmerman was guilty of poor judgment. Had he not set the ball in motion, none of this would have occurred. And, had he not had a gun on his person in the first place, I doubt he would have had the courage to “set that ball in motion”. However, I don’t hear people talking about “the gun”. But, the gun was the cause of death for Trayvon. And, unfortunately, it gave Mr. Zimmerman the false courage to initiate the whole unfortunate sequence of events.
    • “To call him (Trayvon) a child is ridiculous”. No, it is not. He was legally and developmentally a teen and still a minor child at just turned 17 years. He was not an adult.
    All current research says the human brain is not fully developed emotionally or in terms of judgment until almost age 25 years. Yes, I know. That is long past the legal age of adulthood. But, Trayvon was much under this age anyway. You can’t expect a young person to use the judgment of an adult. Young people DO experiment, can be impulsive, they take more risks and often feel invincible. It is the nature of youth. I would expect the higher standard to be held of Mr. Zimmerman who was over a decade older and a man fully grown.
    Sources I have read state Trayvon was 5’ 11” (5” shorter than you state) and 158 pounds. Nor was he a drop-out. He was junior in high school and an A and B student. Trayvon had been suspended 3x from school—once for tardiness and truancy, once for graffiti and once for having a marijuana pipe and “empty bag with reisdue”. Hardly a hardened criminal, but fairly typical teenage stuff.
    • Frankly, were I a “just turned” 17 year old and being followed on a dark and rainy night by an unfamiliar man I’d be panicked. I have no doubt a “fight or flight” instinct would take over. I doubt Trayvon even thought about the possibility that Mr. Zimmerman might have a gun–much less use it. And what do we parents tell our kids when they are in imminent danger? Often it is either “run” or “fight”.
    Were I a black parent with a teenage son in Florida—or anywhere in the United States for that matter—I would be very worried. I only wish I knew what to do about it. This letter is my attempt to speak up and say, “I get it”. And I have a very different viewpoint than your column’s. I think the jury made the wrong decision. I can’t change that. But, I can speak my mind.
    A number of years ago in Boston (my adopted home town) a white man (Charles Stuart) shot and killed his pregnant wife. He then shot himself in the leg as a cover up and blamed it on a black “assailant”. For days, the hunt was on to catch the perpetrator. No one questioned his story. Eventually, it did unravel and he committed suicide by jumping off the Tobin Bridge. The whole affair was tragic from beginning to end. Saddest of all were his wife’s parents, left behind to mourn the death of their daughter and grandson at the hands of their own son-in-law. On top of that, African-Americans in Boston were seething at being wrongly accused without question.
    I’ll never forget what happened next. Mr. and Mrs. DiMaiti, the wife’s parents, did the one unexpected thing that truly began the healing process for everyone. They played the race card the only way it should be played—in honor of their lost loved ones, they set up the Carole DiMaiti Stuart foundation which awards scholarship aid to Mission Hill residents (mostly poor and black and in the neighborhood where Carole was shot by—as it turned out– her own husband) and to fund activities involving the amelioration of racism and violence in Boston. Sometimes it takes an apology, forgiveness and an act of grace to begin the healing for everyone. I’m still waiting and hoping for that to happen this time.

    Catherine Loeb
    former resident of Clare, Michigan

  2. Catherine59 Reply

    July 21, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I might add you could also describe Mr. Zimmerman, the adult in this case, as “less than perfect”. He had a past criminal record that included an arrest for resisting an officer “with violence” (in 2005) as well as had a restraining orders between him and his former fiancee (2005). He is also reported to have made over 46 calls to the police in regards to “suspicious black males” over the course of 8 years. It is hard to believe this is not racial profiling.

  3. cbuchh48 Reply

    July 22, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Thanks for that, Catherine. I couldn’t have said it better.
    Anyone who doesn’t think that racism still exist in this country has their head in the sand.

    Chuck Buchholz
    former resident of Clare, Michigan….now resides in Mississippi

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