No story in months has spurred as much discussion and debate as the trial in Florida in which neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was acquitted late last week on murder charges for the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Politicians and pundits at both the national and state levels have kept the pot boiling, and it was even the most talked-about subject locally as well, as least as far as we can tell by letters to the editor.
And, oh, there were demonstrations, all over the country, by people who thought justice was not served for the unarmed teenager, who the protesters thought was profiled, followed and then killed because he was black. A few turned violent, but most people were content with exercising their First Amendment rights calmly and peaceably.
That feeling is held by a huge number of blacks but not the majority of whites in this country. This case has painfully shown us again how divided this country is by race when it comes to issues of race.
Explains pollster Scott Rasmussen: “What white Americans need to understand is that there is a reason most black Americans believe our justice system is out to get them. For most of our history government in America was an organized conspiracy against black Americans. …What black Americans need to understand, though, is that George Zimmerman and his generation never lived in that world. The world has changed.”
Until blacks and whites can begin to see American history through each other’s perspectives, we are never likely to have that “honest discussion” about race everybody keeps saying we need.
(See Monday’s editorial page for full column by Rasmussen about American racial attitudes.)