Thursday, March 29, 2012

Are we there yet?

The recent case of the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida has ignited a lot of public outcry and national attention. While a lot of people are wondering why this particular case is any different from the many cases of gun violence in other cities across America, the fact is that it has brought some of the biggest names in civil rights to the forefront to advocate for justice on Trayvon's behalf.

What gets to me is the media's ADD-style of reporting. They focus on soundbites, they focus on opinion, and they focus on conspiracy theories. Supporters of Zimmerman will tell you that he was attacked and that Trayvon was the aggressor. There is even some evidence that has been reported that backs up this claim. However, those who are advocating for Trayvon have produced their own evidence to counter that. It's becoming a media circus, and while this serves to shed light on the issues of racial tensions in America, I have to wonder what it means for us when we become so wrapped up in these stories.

Are we, as a nation, at a point where we can put race behind us? A lot of people are saying we are and that we should. But many of those people are the one's who are saying Zimmerman acted in self-defense. Most of them are white, and most of them are conservative. Am I profiling? Perhaps, but it's an observation I've made. African Americans seem to have a lot more to say about race issues, and this is most likely because they deal with it all the time. I'm not in a position to understand what they go through for being African-American. Race doesn't matter to me personally, but I realize that it plays a role in our policy and our media.

I believe that we have to let racial issues be publicized only insofar as they allow us to move past them. We have to highlight injustices so that they can be corrected. But to dwell on racial issues, even dwelling on their continued existence, can have a negative impact. I've grown tired of reading articles that have to do with the Martin case. The media is saturated with this story. While in the beginning I felt it was an important story to hear and that it might help expose prejudice, it has become a meaningless succession of finger-pointing, rallies, and punditry. The message that was originally conveyed has been lost in the white noise created by it's own media success.

I don't think we're close to a time when race will no longer matter. I believe we can get there, but it's going to require facing our darkest cultural corners and shedding light on philosophies and policies that have become vestiges of discrimination. It will be painful, and will likely upset people in its scope. But I think it's possible and very necessary if we are going to move past things like the Trayvon Martin incident, both his death and the current firestorm.

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