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Trayvon Martin: A Victim of Racial Profiling?

By: Ariana Johnson

April 5, 2012

On February 26 in Sanford, Fl, unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking to his father’s fiancée’s house with a bag of skittles and a can of ice tea he never made to his destination .28-year-old the “ Neighborhood Watch Captain” George Zimmerman  shot and killed Martin under the guise of self- defense.

Zimmerman has still not been arrested for the murder.  The Sanford Police claimed their inability to charge him un light of the Florida’s infamous Stand your Ground Law. From the time of Martin’s death until now public figures like the Rev. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and President Barack Obama have voiced their concern about this tragedy . Protestors across the country including Cleveland rallied with picket signs and skittles in honor of Martin.

Protest in Cleveland-Photo by Brandon BlackwellPictures of Trayvon Martin wearing a white hoodie or a red Hollister shirt has been posted on social media websites causing an outpour of compassion and sympathy for the Martin family. As I follow this case and its progress I can’t help but say  that to me  this appears a clear and unfortunate example of racial profiling Florida .

It is unfortunate minorities specifically African Americans are targeted as drug dealers, thugs, thieves, or welfare queens by some sections of Americans. Even in  the case of Trayvon Martin we can hear Zimmerman saying in his now infamous 911 call  that he suspected Martin of being a drug dealer in Sanford, but what if Trayvon Martin was not a 17- year-old black kid wearing a hoodie, what if he was a white kid wearing the same attire, as most 17- year-old boys dress pretty much the same nowadays— would
Trayvon Martin still be here if he was an Asian kid with a bag of skittles.

I think the answer in most likelihood is yes. Racial profiling in the U.S. is  still prevalent in our country. About four decades after the Civil Rights Movement we still see stratification on the lines of race in our country. When I as an African American woman walk into big name stores I  am constantly followed by sales persons who ask me questions like “ Can I help you” or “ Is there something that you are looking for” the eyes and the nonverbal expressions suggest they  are afraid that I might steal something.

It is unfortunate that when some people look at me they do not see me as an individual that they would like to get to know but an individual that they already know by looking at stereotypes on television, in movies and studying false statistics. Racial profiling affects other minorities Hispanics, Asians, East Indians, Arabs and people of Jewish and Muslim descent.

I do not feel that this was a hate crime per se, however I feel that racial profiling was the main catalyst behind the murder of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman saw a 17-year-old black male wearing a hoodie walking in the rain and assumed that he was involved in criminal activity. Little did he know that Martin was a football player throughout middle school, he volunteered for a youth organization from June to November. He was a good student and was interested in Aeronautics, and could always be found outside of his father house mowing the lawn. I just hope that by the time I have a 17- year-old son I will not be concerned that my son will be the next Trayvon Martin, a victim of racial profiling.