Trayvon Martin case splits Americans

The Trayvon Martin case is revealing troubling divisions in America.

There is both a racial and partisan divide, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. It shows that 43 percent of whites, as compared to 16 percent of blacks, feel there’s too much coverage of Martin’s death. And 56 percent of Republicans, as compared with 37 percent of independents and 25 percent of Democrats, feel the same way.

The killing of unarmed Martin, and the failure of the district attorney to even press charges against George Zimmerman, is a huge story. And it has hardly been overplayed, for it raises fundamental issues.

One issue is the use of deadly force: the so-called stand your ground or castle doctrine laws. These essentially legalize vigilantes, and they make America a much more dangerous place to live.

Another issue we must confront squarely is racism. But this is not simply a black and white issue because Zimmerman is Latino, according to his father.

We need a real dialogue between blacks and whites, and between blacks and Latinos. We need a real dialogue among all Americans, for that matter.

We can’t wish away racism. We can’t turn our heads and say we’ve heard enough about it already.

We need to confront it, not deny it.

And we need to talk, and listen, and try to understand people who are different from us.

Until we do that, there may be more tragedies like Trayvon Martin’s.

Akilah Bolden-Monifa is a freelance writer based in Oakland, Calif. She can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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