Telling It Like It Is

From “The Truth About Trayvon,” Ekow N. Yankah*, NYT:

“The Trayvon Martin verdict is frustrating, fracturing, angering and predictable.  More than anything, for many of us, it is exhausting.  Exhausting because nothing could bring back our lost child, exhausting because the verdict, which should have felt shocking, arrived with the inevitability that black Americans know too well when criminal law announces that they are worth less than other Americans.

“The anger felt by so many African-Americans speaks to the simplest of truths:  that race and law cannot be cleanly separated. … We are tired of pretending that ‘reasonable doubt’ is not, in every sense of the word, colored.

“I do not have to believe that Mr. Zimmerman is a hate-filled racist to recognize that he would probably not even have noticed Mr. Martin if he had been a casually dressed white teenager.

“Imagine that a militant black man, with a history of race-based suspicion and a loaded gun, followed an unarmed white teenager around his neighborhood.  The young man is scared, and runs through the streets trying to get away.  Unable to elude his black stalker and, perhaps, feeling cornered, he finally holds his ground — only to be shot at point-blank range after a confrontation.

“A young, white Trayvon Martin would unquestionably be said to have behaved reasonably, while it is unimaginable that a militant black George Zimmerman would not be viewed as the legal aggressor, and thus guilty of at least manslaughter.”

 

*  Yankah is a law professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University

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