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Speaking out against racial bias is necessary

Juror B37 in the George Zimmerman case was recently quoted as saying Zimmerman’s “heart was in the right place” in attempting to stop crime in his neighborhood. The juror also said that she was sure Zimmerman feared for his life on the night he shot Trayvon Martin. We are left to conclude that the jury made the correct decision and that the state did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The question remains: was George Zimmerman’s heart truly in the right place? If so, should he have followed Trayvon Martin? Should he have drawn his gun? Or did race play a part in Zimmerman’s view of Martin? Would he have ignored police telling him to stay in his car had his heart been in the right place? Would he have assumed Martin was going to commit a crime?

These are questions we may never be able to answer. But if Martin were a white youth in a hoodie, can we assume that Zimmerman would have still followed and confronted him? Had Zimmerman shot a white youth, can we assume the juror would believe Zimmerman’s life was in danger? We must ask these questions if we are to truly understand the potential for racial bias that exists in our culture.

We can only eliminate racial bias in the world by speaking out against it. Just as the jurors in this case made their choice to acquit Zimmerman, we as a society must choose to take action. As Martin Luther King Jr. said on the subject of speaking out against injustice: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Jeffrey Freedman

Buffalo