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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Google Interest In George Zimmerman Trial : Will Race Trump Sex

Time will tell whether our interest in sex can be trumped by our concern about race.

Certainly in the case of Jodi Arias, 18 days of testimony about her salacious relationship with Travis Alexander is what kept the TV audience and trial watchers coming back for more.  If you Google Jodi Arias and sex you get more than 94 million results. The same exercise using Travis Alexander pulls up 6 million results.

So despite being being portrayed as a man with many prurient interest and a Mormon who's religion required him to abstain from sex before marriage, and the victim, he was not as compelling as Jodi. No one should care about what two consenting adults do in their private relationship, the in your face exposure at trial of what they did was beyond titillating. Jodi's accusation that Mr. Alexander was interested in children capped off a picture that was disturbing.

If you Google George Zimmerman and race, there are approximately 5.5 million results and the trial has yet to begin. If you Google Trayvon Martin and race, there are 15 million results. There is greater interest in  Trayvon Martin, not as the victim per se, but  because he has become the poster boy for young, black men who are profiled and pursued. According to Bureau of Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, roughly 7000 African-Americans were killed annually and 94% were killed by other blacks.  While blacks are only 13% of the population their homicide rate is 50%.   The NAACP states:
Nationwide, African-Americans represent 26% of juvenile arrests, 44% of youth who are detained, 46% of the youth who are judicially waived to criminal court, and 58% of the youth admitted to state prisons (Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice).
The fact that George Zimmerman is also non-white is not insignificant. Obviously, he was still capable of racial stereotyping, even though it has been stated that he tutored black children and that there are blacks in his family. He may have been projecting. There are people who categorize Hispanics to be the same as blacks. The NAACP Criminal Justice Fact Sheet says that in 2008, African Americans and Hispanics made up a quarter of the population, but were 58% of prisoners.

It makes sense that as a society we should understand why the interaction between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin escalated to murder. A key contention at  trial will be who was the aggressor. No matter what the testimony and the result, it is a fact that guns and racial stereotypes do not mix.

Article first published as George Zimmerman Trial: Will Race Trump Sex? on Technorati.