Daily headlines and constant updates of information are popping up all over online news sources and being searched for on the hour, in the case of the shooting death of unarmed Florida teen, Trayvon Martin. Public outcry is accusing George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch figure, of racially profiling the teen and then pursuing Martin who was eventually shot and killed.
Amid 911 calls released from both sides of the case, Zimmerman is reported to have followed and then shot the teen because he feared for his life, after an alleged struggle. Florida police have not filed any charges yet against Zimmerman, citing the Stand Your Ground law and Zimmerman’s story corroborating with evidence at this time.
Along with a federal investigation that is ongoing, the case is also bringing a much needed and deeper look at issues our society should address with our youth. Instead of touting revenge, justification or even justice, perhaps instead the situation should be looked at for whatever positive that can be squeezed from its sad and negative remains.
Days ago, George Zimmerman’s father came to his son’s defense by responding to the public allegations that his son racially profiled Martin and sought him out to kill him. Reason given by Zimmerman’s father in a story on CNN.com, stated in response to accusations that Zimmerman was a racist said, “Zimmerman’s father, Robert, insisted that this wasn’t true. In fact, he said it couldn’t be true because his son is Hispanic…” (CNN.com)
Reasoning and a dialogue are begging to be reckoned with, especially for what this entire scenario tells our children. How is a claim of minority status, in any way, shape or form, a free pass to excuse you from ever making a mistake or being considered a racist? Our children are not blind to racism or judgment. Like us, they have most likely not only felt or seen this from other races or cultural backgrounds, but also within their own minority group.
Longtime educator and Chief Executive Officer of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education, Yvette Jackson makes a profound point to consider when getting wrapped up in the case and which side your opinion falls on. “To ignore the story of Trayvon in any classroom is to ignore an event that is shaping how countless young students of all races and ethnicities are seeing their world, the adults around them, and visions for their futures”(CNN.com).
For residents of Aurora, Colorado, diversity and a top-rated school district are what draw people in and to the idea of relocating here. In a recent interview with The Denver Post, State Rep. Rhonda Fields, who is “one of only two black legislators in Colorado”, pointed out that “The city (Aurora) is a great place to live and educate our children” . “I’ve always lived in Aurora, and for me, personally, it was because of the school system” (The Denver Post.com).
Aurora, it would seem, is a prime opportune place, in it’s diverse richness, to address this issue we are seeing in the spotlight of media and help our children understand, gain something positive and cause their own ripple effect of change.
Interestingly enough, as diverse as Aurora has been hailed in media reports recently, Aurora has “no blacks or Latinos serving on City Council. Aurora’s Police Department is 4 percent black and 8 percent Latino. The Fire Department is 4 percent black and 5 percent Latino.” Fields said Aurora needs stronger black political representation and that she tries to encourage people to run for various public offices (The Denver Post). Perhaps if we can educate and help our children grow past an event such as Trayvon Martin’s, then they can be the change needed in our political leaders.
“Educators have a lot on their plates and the year is beginning to wind down for some. But if we are going to educate, we must be relevant to students. And when one of their own dies in such a high profile way under such questionable circumstances, we have more than a teachable moment. We have an obligation to use our classrooms to promote learning, understanding and a vision of future where a young life is not so easily and unnecessarily lost,” says Jackson in her recent blog (CNN.com).
The world seems to be watching and waiting to see if a Stand Your Ground law will allow what appears on the outside, as a senseless killing.