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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Is This a Good Time to Hold the Race Card?

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No matter what you tell yourself, your appearance defines you.  And that goes from the "dumb" blonde to the young black man.  It's not just skin tone and race, any defining feature that makes someone the "other" comes with associations. There are negative stereotypes for fat people, short people, rich people and poor people.

How you dress defines you, too. There is nothing to suggest that Trayvon Martin was wearing a hoodie for any reason other than to keep the rain off, but the Million Hoodie March last year used the hoodie to suggest it made him a target, a "hood". People make snap judgments based on appearance, and obviously in this case there was no second chance.

You can choose not to wear hoodies, but unless you are Michael Jackson, and have vitiligo, you can't really change the color of your skin. You can, however, try. John Howard Griffin, lived as a black man for two months and wrote about his experiences in the book, Black Like Me.  There have been tremendous strides forward since the 1950's and publication of his memoir. It would be sad to place the death of Trayvon Martin in the sphere of racial persecution.But that is where it has ended up.

Social media is exploiting the race card for both victim and defendant. Trayvon is a poster child for the young black man murdered because of racial stereotypes. The fact that literally there was a poster of a young black man holding Skittles that looked like Trayvon being used for target practice in Florida and sold online is reprehensible.

The defense has been demonizing Trayvon Martin for the very traits that the prosecution says made him a stereotype, rather a real person.  Recently, Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson put a stop to their strategy saying it would damage the reputation of the deceased teen. 

Both the prosecution and the defense need to play more poker and less media. The race card is no one's trump.

Article first published as George Zimmerman Trial: Is This a Good Time to Hold the Race Card? on Technorati.