Friday, April 13, 2012

Trayvon Martin: Beyond the Outcry

Everyone that pays attention to the media, especially international media from the west, must have at this point in time heard about Trayvon Martin. If by chance you happen to have crawled under a rock in Mars for the last one month and thus missed the whole commotion, Trayvon Martin is the 17-year-old boy shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch volunteer.

If you don’t know about the details of the case, as many still don’t, you might not think much of a headline that says “boy killed by guard”. But why should you think different, News headlines are replete with such news stories anyway. 

However, the Trayvon Martin case is unique in more ways than one. Not only is the late Trayvon Martin a minor, he was unarmed and not partaking in anything illegal at the time he was fatally shot by Zimmerman. Sad, you might say, another young boy at the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Yes, Trayvon Martin was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Wrong time and place for a black youth to be in 21st century America. Wrong place to be, but right sort of place to get a bullet in the chest. A bullet fired by a white adult male who clearly outweighs him.

For those who have had the time in this dreary economic climate to follow the ruckus that emanated after the news sipped out that Mr. George Zimmerman, the killer of that innocent boy, was allowed to walk free after the fact, two truths ring clear: Zimmerman pulled the trigger of the gun that took the young boys life, the victim was armed with skittles and a cup of ice tea at the time of the shooting and was not doing anything untoward—except we follow George Zimmerman’s contention that the boy was walking aimlessly around the neighbourhood and agree with him that that constitutes a crime.

I feel profound sympathy for the family of the late Trayvon Martin and can only hope they find the strength to bear the loss, but the issue at hand is deeper than the death of a boy that made his parents proud.
I also feel sympathy for black Americans, who have had to contend with similar killings by high-handed and often times racially motivated white gunmen. I watch the news story and share the rage and confusion of those who ask that the boy’s killer face justice, not because I am of the same race with a majority of those I see carrying placards calling for justice, but because I never ever believed in extra-judicial killing by anyone.

As a Nigerian who has not personally experienced the blind racism that many allude to in the west, that one reads about, sees in movies and TV debates, I cannot claim to fully understand what it feels like to be discriminated against because of one’s colour. I know many say tribalism is similar, but I think it is only superficially so as one’s tribe cannot easily be decoded at first glance--one’s race is usually as clear as day.

However, as justified as my anger and that of millions around the world itching for justice is, I also know that getting justice for Trayvon Martin should not be the end of it. It is easy to march on the street and call for the arrest of one man, but forgetting that the arrest and possible imprisonment of one man does not change the situation on the ground that made his alleged crime possible. There is now greater need for people the world over to look at how we relate to ourselves. Should we continue hating because we don’t understand, or seek knowledge to make us better understand?

Across the world, people continue to hate more than they love, to kill more than they save and the destroy more than they build. Life, particularly human life is considered most sacred by religions world over. Yet, in this earth, man continues to see killing as a means of settling real and perceived disputes.

Trayvon Martin is just another notch on the pole that marks the billion untimely taken as a result of man’s resolve to take rather than give life to his kind and George Zimmerman, whether he pleads self-defence or not, broke the law of nature, he killed Trayvon Martin.


  1. This case is like many other in this country. I am from New Orleans and on any given night for six to eight black men to be killed is not unusual. And let me add they are killed by other black men. Where is Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson and the rest of the inciters calling for JUSTICE? There is only an outcry when the shooter is white. If your teen like most dresses acts and looks like a thug than chances of him being mistaken for a thug are pretty good. So before you blame whitey look in the mirror and ask yourself did I raise a respectable human being or a thug? Clean up you own backyard before you go blaming others for your messes. Blacks have had 47 years since civil rights laws were enacted I was alive then and they walked around in wife beater undershirts with combs stuck in their hair. Go out in any town today they walk around with wife beater undershirts and combs stuck in their hair they have really come a long way havent they. In contrast go back to the seventies when the Vietnamese were being brought here after the war. They came here adopted to this country and the American ways have caused no trouble, have worked very hard and have taken advantage of the things America has to offer and become productive law abiding citizens. Raceism is perpetuated by BLACKS period. I for one will not cave to their rediculous demands like all of the scumbag politicians in this country who ONLY WANT THEM TO VOTE AND VOTE OFTEN. This is America and if you dont like her ways then get the hell out. You dont see the Vietnamese or any other groups marching in the street demanding anything because they like most Americans WORK and dont have time for such nonsense. God bless real Americans and America and to hell with the rest of you leaches on society.

  2. Similar points to yours were made by a compatriot of mine a few weeks ago and we agreed that the commercialised gangster culture is getting out of hand, as is the ease with which people in America access guns.
    You missed the mark however when you fell into the same trap many of us are wont to fall into--profiling and stereotyping.
    I have never been to America, have never left my native country--which was why I said I do not know first hand what it feels to be racially profiled.
    Perhaps what you wrote above is a form of racial profiling. if it is, then it is lost to me because the demography which you address is one I have no first hand knowledge of.
    My people go to the US, but they are largely successful there. Perhaps the issues of the black American community is one that needs to be dealt with, and soon to, by the black American community.
    I still believe Zimmerman guilty of taking a human life, and that is what I am against. We do not have the power to take life. Self defense, ok...only I don't buy that story.