Tragic Trayvon Martin Shooting Is an American Problem Not a Black One (VIDEO)

George ZimmermanMore details are out on the 911 call made by George Zimmerman, the man who admits to shooting unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin as he walked through a gated community in Florida. The debate over whether Zimmerman mumbled a particularly disturbing racial slur has added fuel to the firestorm of folks demanding the death of the black teenager be classified a hate crime. I'd like to agree, but I'm worried.

The Trayvon Martin case is not a "black problem," America. It's an everyone problem that happens to have racial implications as well. To treat it as anything but is to let the George Zimmermans of the world continue their reign of terror.


Let's look at the facts. George Zimmerman says he shot Trayvon in self-defense. Even though the 911 call reveals he followed the child (yes, 17 makes this boy a child) when 911 operators told him not to. Even though he himself told 911 operators that he didn't know what was in Trayvon's hands (it turned out to be Skittles and an iced tea).

Now people who took a long, hard listen to the 911 tape say Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, muttered the words "f---ing c--n" as he gave chase (again, after being told NOT to by the operator at 911). It has race written all over it. And yet, I worry that we'll get too caught up in that side of the issue. Not because it's not true, but because of what that will do to the Trayvon Martin case.

In a country where a black teenager can be deemed "suspicious" for walking in a pre-dominantly white neighborhood, minding his business and carrying candy, I worry that the more we delve into the racial issues, the more people will tune out. Because people like to pretend that we live in a happy-go-lucky post-racial world now that we have a black president. And the shooting of an unarmed black teenager doesn't have a place in that pretty picture.

We need to talk about race because it's wrapped up in what happened to Trayvon Martin, but we need to keep this in the public eye. And so we need to talk about all the other issues swirling around the shooting of this child.

The Trayvon Martin case represents the parents in America who can't simply be content in raising a child who loves math and volunteers with the local Little League. They have to worry about their child, their good-hearted, innocent child, when he goes out to buy a bag of Skittles because there are crazy people everywhere. This is an American problem, not just a black one.

It's a reminder that gun ownership in America will never be a cut and dried issue. There will always be guns on the streets that are "legally" held but used irresponsibly. George Zimmerman may have had the right to use the gun that killed Trayvon. But it is looking less and less likely that he used it responsibly. This is an American problem. Not a black one.

A federal probe has begun into why Zimmerman wasn't charged in this case, even though he's admitted to shooting this unarmed teenager. There are claims of police corruption and a possible cover-up. We don't yet know if they're true. But they could happen anywhere. That is an American problem. Not a black one.

Every American should care about the death of Trayvon Martin. And every American should be fighting for justice for this child and his grieving family. Are you?

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