“It’s a Twitter thing”, says 15 year old Christianna of Stephenson High School in DeKalb County. “It is one of the main ways we talk about the murder of Trayvon Martin.” She joins the hundred of high school students around Metro Atlanta and the national angry about the shooting death of unarmed, 17 year old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida on February 26, 2012. Stephenson High students are not only talking about Trayvon’s death, but showing unity in the call for “justice”. Christianna says all week many students have come to school wearing hoodies, (T’s and sweatshirts with hoods attached) and can be seen carrying bags of Skittles and bottles of Arizona Tea. Trayvon was wearing a hoodie and had purchased candy and drink from the store when he was shot walking home. Stephenson High School students like 16-year-old Jewayne say, the shooting was wrong and believe it was a hate crime and not self-defense based on the evidence heard so far. Jewayne says many people are also on Facebook asking the question, “Why has there been no arrest in this case, and signing the Lets Get Justice for Trayvon Martin Petition.” The petition has more than one starting point and according to Change.Org has well over 2.2 million signatures demanding the arrest of Trayvon’s shooter, 28-year-old George Zimmerman.
Trayvon Martin was shot in the chest by self appointed neighbor watch member George Zimmerman. The 911 tapes leading up to the shooting have been released, so has the latest video that appears to contradict Zimmerman’s claims that Trayvon attached him and the shooting was in self-defense. Zimmerman’s family has also spoken out in his defense saying there was a fight and Zimmerman was both threatened and hurt. While on the other hand, neighbors, and even Trayvon’s girlfriend, who was on the cell phone with the teens just before the shooting, have spoken out contradicting Zimmerman’s account of the events. Zimmerman told the 911 operator that Trayvon looked “suspicious” and continued to follow the teen even after he was advised by the 911 operator to stop following Trayvon.
It’s the fact that there has been no arrest in Trayvon’s murder that taken one neighborhood’s tragedy and shined a nationwide spotlight on the issue of racism and justice in America. This story has gripped and mobilized thousands across the country. Outraged citizens, including many young people, have taken to the streets holding rallies and protesting the apparent lack of justice, and even legal cover-up surrounding Trayvon’s death. Here in Atlanta, on Monday March 26, 2012, hundreds of people packed Washington Street in front of the State Capital for a community rally. Rally leaders not only talked about standing up for justice, but about ending racial stereotypes. Many people would like to just see the Trayvon case tried in court, and not in the media. Many students say they would be justice.
Students Jewayne and Christianna agree that finding the answers to the problem of profiling and racism is not going to be easy. They say while teachers are not bringing up the topic for social studies or history discussions in their class, students are still talking about the problem. As a young African American male, Jewayne says he is not fearful, but this case has forced him to make wiser choices when traveling alone at night. Even to the point he may choose to avoid certain neighborhoods or certain groups of people.
The issue of hate continues to loom over the nation and its young people like a dark storm cloud. The Trayvon Martian’s case has opened the door for real discussion, among people of all races about the dangers of stereotyping. However, overcoming the obvious, while trying to understand personal perceptions, will be among the many hurlers to climb. This story takes and even deeper review by national television media with tonight’s CNN’s Soledad O’Brien presentation called “Beyond Trayvon: Race & Justice in America” This airs Friday, March 30, 2012 at 8pm.