What just happened?

Social media and the news have focused laser-like attention on the George Zimmerman trial. Immediately following the physical struggle between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, ending in the death of Martin, the Internet, TV and radio have opened discussions about this single incident. It’s as if this one case created the catalyst to discuss racial inequities in the U.S. Meanwhile core problems faced by black people in America have been kicked to the curb.

Why Is Race Hard to Talk About?

The two trials of Zimmerman: ‘The Wire’ v. ‘CSI’

It only took two and half days for more than a million people to sign a petition asking the Department of Justice to bring federal charges against George Zimmerman.

Hillary Clinton spoke about the “heartache” of the Trayvon Martin case in D.C. Tuesday evening while speaking to an African-American sorority group. “My prayers are with the Martin family and with every family who loves someone who is lost to violence,”

Attorney General Holder vows federal probe into Zimmerman case in NAACP remarks.

Black caucus readies racial profiling bill in response to Fla. verdict

Jimmy Carter: George Zimmerman Jury ‘Made The Right Decision

Angered by  Zimmerman verdict, some Call for a Boycott of Florida Businesses

Maya Angelou Reacts To Zimmerman Trial

Maya Angelou at the Discovery 2000 conference.

Maya Angelou at the Discovery 2000 conference. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Author, poet, and activist Maya Angelou was shaken by the verdict of the George Zimmerman trial, saying it shows “how far we have to go” as a country. “That one man, armed with a gun can actually profile a young man because he is black and end up shooting him dead…It is so painful,” Angelou said. “We are all harmed. We are all belittled, and we give to the rest of the world more ammunition to sneer at us.“

I agree 100% with Maya Angelou however with entirely different conclusions. What became painfully obvious to me over the course of this trial and the several on-line discussions I’ve had with friends are the deep divisions that still undermine human relationships based on something so shallow as to literally be only skin deep. When discussing this topic with people I respect and find intelligent, I’m amazed that because I have a different opinion, mine doesn’t count because I’m not black.

Only by reaching out to understand one another and displaying concern do we acquire the capacity to love each other and work together.

All of us have a common bond of humanity, rather than create barriers, we need to enhance our capacity to overcome the hurt.

Understand the real sources of neglect and mistrust come from our lack of understanding and deep emotional pain.

If you consider yourself a spiritually motivated person, find reasons to live your life in rational thoughts of hope and kindness not lingering bitterness.

What has this trail accomplished if it isn’t about looking at the facts and making a sound judgment based on the presented evidence? What is so amazing to me are the justification and excuses for deep seated hatred. There are literally thousands of young black men being killed in our streets unfortunately mostly at the hand of other black men. Where is the indignation and the desire to stop this violence?

I know emotions run deep and can destroy the lives of individuals once they latch on to believing other people are disgusting, inferior or have gone so far as imagined whole scenarios fabricated from the thinnest of circumstances. I’ve learned through sad experience, once people neglect their intellectual reasoning and gravitate to their deep seated emotions, rational thought loses out.

Dr. Alveda King grieved over race baiters in the Zimmerman trial.

The reasons for distrust, anger, vilification, prejudice and hatred are all within you and me. The finger of accusation requires the greatest amount of focus on yourself first and less upon the thoughts and words of those whom you accuse.

Here are some facts to consider

People profile all the time.  There isn’t an adult in this country living near other people who doesn’t profile. People engage daily in some type of profiling.  If you ask for directions, who do you approach, a businessman in a suit, a woman in sports clothes or someone trying to appear as a gangster? If you’re trying to find an item in a department store you’re probably searching for someone that looks as if they work there. I go into the Home Depot and I frequently get asked for directions in the store. I only tell them I don’t work there if I can’t recall where the item is located. I will do my best to answer the question, and I don’t care what color the person is or what they’re wearing. Profiling is used on a daily basis by people of all ages. This is one of the most ridiculous accusations often suggested as being unfair. As I used to say to my kids, life isn’t about being fair all the time, it’s a hard lesson for any of us because I can tell you there are many instances when life hasn’t been fair to me. It never will be, but we can strive for it.

Most murder victims (79 percent) and murderers (88 percent) are male. (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Homicide Trends in the U.S. – Trends by Gender — July 2006)

Violent crime is not an equal-opportunity offender. Your chances of being attacked vary tremendously according to your age, race, sex and neighborhood. The risk of becoming a victim of a serious violent crime is nearly four times higher if you are 16 to 19 years old, for example, than 35 to 49; almost three times higher if you are black instead of white; two times if you are male, not female; and again double if you live in a city rather than in a suburb or in the country. (CNN Money)

Females are most often violently victimized by someone they know, while males are more likely to be victimized by strangers. (U.S. Department of Justice, National Crime Victimization Survey — September 2006)

Approximately 52 percent of violent victimizations are not reported to the police. (U.S. Department of Justice, National Crime Victimization Survey — September 2004)

In 2005, about 16 million households experienced one or more property crimes or had a member age 12 or older who experienced one or more violent crimes. (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Crime and the Nation’s Households, 2005 — April 2007)

Estimates indicate that only 6 to 14 percent of chronic violent offenders are ever arrested for a serious violent crime. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2001)

[1] A former director of information technology, was fired after testifying at a pre-trial hearing on June 6 that prosecutors failed to turn over potentially embarrassing evidence extracted from Martin’s cell phone to the defense, as required by evidence-sharing laws.

[2] CRS employee spent $1,142.84 to travel to Sanford, Florida from March 25-28, 2012 “to work marches, demonstrations, and rallies”
CRS employee spent $751.60 to travel to Sanford, Florida from March 30-April 1, 2012 “to provide technical assistance to the City of Sanford, event organizers, and law enforcement agencies for the march and rally on March 31”;
CRS employee spent $1,307.40 to travel to Sanford, Florida from April 3-12, 2012 “to provide technical assistance, conciliation, and on site mediation during demonstrations planned in Sanford”

[3] Anger on Twitter after the Zimmerman verdict

  • One in 15 people in the United States will serve time in prison at some point in their lifetime.
  • Nearly half of all jail and prison inmates are held or sentenced for violent crime or drug offenses.
  • More than half of jail inmates are on probation, parole, or pretrial release at the time of arrest.
  • In 2002, four in ten jail inmates had a current or past violent offense sentence.
  • Nearly one in three jail inmates grew up with a parent or guardian who abused alcohol or other drugs.
  • About 12 percent lived in foster homes or institutions, and almost half had a family member who had been incarcerated.
  • More than half of women in jail say they have been physically or sexually abused in the past.
  • African Americans are approximately six times more likely to spend time in prison or jail than whites.
  • According to research, African Americans receive up to 60% longer federal prison sentences than whites who commit similar offenses, and 20% longer prison sentences than whites who commit the same offenses.
  • Persons employed in law enforcement are victimized while at work or on duty at the highest rate of all occupations, followed by those in the mental health field.
  • Police officers account for about 11 percent of all workplace victimizations.