When propagandizing media made this case out to be something other than what the evidence showed it was, a hoax had been played on the whole country. It was a particularly cruel hoax on the African-American community.
Look at it this way. Suppose the mass media had – whether through gullibility or complicity – had told a false story of a cancer victim being horribly wronged. Any of us would have been outraged and hurt…but genuine cancer survivors would have been put through more unnecessary pain by the story than anyone else. Basically, that’s what happened here.
Look back to the days of slavery. Fast forward to the Emancipation Proclamation, and another century forward to the time of Martin Luther King when the desegregation finally became law. Another half century since, and African-Americans are still disproportionately burdened by poverty and crime.
Is it any wonder that this group felt more pain from what their country, from the White House on down, seemed to tell them was a threatening, potentially homicidal slap in their face?
A few days after the Zimmerman acquittal, I attended a meeting at an African-American church in the deep South, sponsored by the local chapter of the NAACP and focusing on Stand Your Ground Laws. The discussion panel included the local police chief, undersheriff, chief prosecutor, and public defender. It became apparent that many of the mostly black attendees believed what the media had told them: that SYG laws had allowed a racist vigilante to murder a helpless young black man and get away with it. The professionals explained how things worked. The audience understood. Before long, talk from the almost entirely African-American audience had turned toward black-on-black crime, their real concern. While in the distant past their community had been preyed upon by the Klan and suffered lynchings, they understood that past was buried, and their real concern was present crime from within their own community.
In the weeks that followed, I was a guest on Tracey and Friends, an African-American-centric radio show headquartered in Ohio. If you have a couple of hours, listen to it here:
You’ll get a better understanding of how bitter people are when they’re singled out as suspects for their color, and followed suspiciously for that reason, and why some are angry enough about it to think that Trayvon Martin was right to physically confront and assault the man he perceived to be following him. I did another interview with an old friend and stalwart of the gun owners’ civil rights movement, Kenn Blanchard, on his podcast Black Man With A Gun.
We have recently celebrated the memory of Martin Luther King, the march on Washington, and the “I have a dream” speech. It reminds us all that Dr. King made it clear that the civil rights movement was about healing, not about wounding.
The way the media – and, yes, the criminal justice system – distorted this case did a disservice to all of us. The facts in evidence clearly showed that it had nothing to do with race, and making it look as if it did plunged a knife into our consciousness as Americans.
But the way they made it look, often comparing it to the lynching of Emmett Till, the media twisted that knife into our African-American citizens with particular cruelty.