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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 Three:   Why Did Zimmerman Get Out of His Car?



Why Did Zimmerman Get Out of His Car?


When I initially heard the story and read the flood of news articles about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, the question that pushed itself to the front of my troubled mind was, “Why did Zimmerman get out of the car when the police told him not to?” If what I heard from ceaseless television talking heads or the cacophony of words I read spewing from the fingers of biased reporters was correct, it seemed to me that the tragic loss of Trayvon’s life could have been avoided if Zimmerman had remained in his vehicle until the authorities arrived. Silly me. I quickly learned from those who were supposedly reading and hearing the same information as I was, that my attempt at logic was too simple. So I dug deeper. While there have been and will always be some questionable details regarding what happened between Martin and Zimmerman, one thing I can say with conviction regardless of the talking heads and spewing fingers is that George Zimmerman profiled Trayvon Martin. When he saw Trayvon walking in the rain, his hoodie pulled over his head, acting as Zimmerman interpreted, “suspiciously,” coupled with the fact that the young man didn’t appear to belong in that neck of the woods, Zimmerman left his vehicle to investigate this individual who wasn’t in his proper place. Zimmerman judged him and left his car to prove his assumptions...

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