Martin, Zimmerman, and Charity

A black kid dies violently. Outrage ensues before anyone has complete facts. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson head to the scene to fill the leadership vacuum. Later it turns out that the media has misled us. NBC edited its tapes. Treyvon Martin was not a little boy but a tall 17-year old kid with some history of trouble. There is the distinct air of political and media exploitation. The death of Treyvon Martin has followed a familiar trajectory.

Crimes are disproportionately committed by young blacks. We’re told that “profiling” is some form of unmitigated evil, but this isn’t true if it’s really just about being wise in certain situations. If you’re walking down an urban street at night and you see teenage black strangers in hoodies coming toward you, you can be as open-minded as you want. I’m crossing the street. Just a guess that the high-minded busybodies on TV would do the same thing.

On the other side, imagine you are a law-abiding black man. Wouldn’t you get tired of seeing your ‘brothers’ die? You know a little about your people’s history in America. You see people who look like you getting hassled and arrested by the police, sometimes without cause. You see the police more often as your oppressor rather than your protector (a view I think has merit). When you walk toward white people, they sometimes cross the street. Cabs don’t stop for you. That has to work on a man and create a sense of alienation. You’d probably start seeing slights too.

We don’t know what exactly what happened to Treyvon Martin yet, but it seems to me that charity– benevolent feelings, consideration, sympathy– is something both sides could use when thinking of the other. Maybe you put that away on a deserted street at midnight or with a gun pointed at you, but that’s not most of the time.

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