Trayvon Martin and Prejudice versus RacismBy
I have watched the non stop pundit circus surrounding the Trayvon Martin verdict. Two things stuck out to me. One, how many people do not really understand our legal system. If you read the law (and it is sad most of the people offering their opinion clearly had not) you can see the verdict was pretty clear cut from a legal standpoint. And finding someone not guilty is not the same as saying they are completely innocent or even that you believe they did not do the crime. It has to do with a fairly high burden of proof. Anytime you have a self defense claim and one of the only two people that truly know what happened is dead, it can make for a tough prosecution. Boycotting Florida and all this other nonsense if simply misguided. These are not flaws in our legal system, they are safeguards. It has been said that it is “better to let 20 guilty men go free than to imprison 1 innocent man”. That is how our system is designed and why the burden is high.
My bigger problem is how everyone talks about racism as a factor in this case. I am 100% convinced this had nothing to do with racism and hearing people like Al Sharpton continue to beat that drum detract from the real conversation we should be having. Racism, which means you actually hate someone you have never meant, simply because of the color of their skin, has diminished greatly in this country. What we have left in its place is prejudice. That is what came into play that day in Florida. It is not a hatred, or even a dislike. It is simply a set of assumptions we make about a person based on stereotype or the things we have heard over time about a particular group. It is when someone assumes that a person must be good with money because they are a Jewish. They must be good at math and science because they are Asian. And yes, they must be up to no good because they are a young, black male.
You see, racism lives in someone’s heart and that is very difficult to change and takes an entire country generations to evolve. Prejudice lies within our minds, even if subconsciously, and it can be replaced by different images and stereotypes. It is nothing more than our brain seeking to make quick simple associations so that it can process the ever growing amount of data we shove into it as quickly as possible. When rap stars play up the “thug” image, they are directly contributing to these stereotypes. We need to take this opportunity to lift up positive role models that break through stereotypes of all kinds and remind us we are all individuals. We need to take some responsibility for the fact that most stereotypes exist because there is some shred of truth underneath that started the whole thing. And that should start the real conversation-
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