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The Trayvon Martin in US

An American Tragedy


Emmanuel Harris II and Antonio D. Tillis

The events surrounding the Trayvon Martin murder, trial and acquittal bring to public and private discourse the violent, brutal murders of Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Dr. King, while bringing back to memory the racially provoked murders of Black American and Black immigrant men such as Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant and more recently, Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York. The name of Trayvon Martin has become trope in the 21st century, which crystallizes US racial politics regarding Blackness, specifically the Black male: a metaphoric symbol of this history of America’s regard for Black bodies, as well as a metonym, a name that has become a contemporary substitute for terrorist attacks targeting Black bodies. The works included here imply that Trayvon Martin, as trope, reverberates in the most conscientious of ‘US’; and, this epic tragedy is one that has plagued ‘US’ since Africans and people of African descent first arrived to the Americas. The essays range from the profoundly personal to the thoroughly investigated, and conclude with the statement from President Barack H. Obama in the epilogue. The Trayvon Martin in US is essential reading for anyone who is involved in race relations or teaches the topic.
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Chapter Ten: Questions Arise: The Political, Legal, and Social Implications of the Trayvon Martin Tragedy



Questions Arise: The Political, Legal, and Social Implications of the Trayvon Martin Tragedy


Trayvon Martin’s murder and its subsequent trial have arguably attracted consistent interest and discussion about race relations in American law. With significant media coverage, marches and demonstrations, governmental interventions, social media conversations, and more, undoubtedly this tragedy forever will have a place in American legal and social history. Although it is a tragic and emotionally devastating time for the Martin family and others involved, it has spawned conversations about many social, political, and legal issues including equality, self-defense rights, and race relations in the US. The public outcry for justice and equality is reminiscent of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. This is further evidenced by the civil rights investigation under way by the U.S. Department of Justice. Some would argue that this case is not about race. Others would shout that it is all about race. Race is important to the review of social, political, and legal implications because this country literally has been built on race problems. Whether it is the native Indian relations, varying White ethnicities’ hierarchies, Black enslavement, or Hispanic immigration, race and ethnicity are paramount issues of concern. This focus on who (the people) instead of what (the right treatment of people) centers the conversation almost permanently on equality and justice. The Martin murder and Zimmerman trial became important to the conversation about race, but it did not...

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