On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed outside his father's house in a Florida gated community. He was just a teenager, returning home from buying candy. But the neighborhood watchman considered him 'suspicious,' and shot the unarmed boy. The gunman confessed. There are witnesses. No arrests have been made.
Listen to the chilling 911 call that Zimmerman makes just before murdering Martin. Some choice moments: "This guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something...These ***holes always get away." To Zimmerman, Martin 'looked suspicious,' and how he looked got him killed.
|Shoot, or don't shoot?|
What was going through Zimmerman's mind as he followed his 'suspect' from the safety of a car? We'll never know for sure, but it's certain that he was exposed to the racial smog that we all encounter on a daily basis: he saw the over-representation of criminalized black folk on TV shows, he heard the racialized fear mongering in the news media, he lived in a culture with a long history of demonizing black men.
|Years later, this murder still matters|
If you were to ask Zimmerman, I'm sure he'd tell you he's not racist; he's 'colorblind.' He may have biases, but he's 'basically a good person', and never means to be prejudiced (same for the police officers covering the case). That's what matters, right? But this situation is a clear demonstration that often 'intent' really doesn't matter. Martin is dead. And Zimmerman's intentions just don't seem that relevant