The reaction to the verdict in the jury trial of George Zimmerman has been very widespread, and not necessarily terribly surprising.  The victim, being an African American teenager, has sparked a debate about race, racial profiling, and the mistaken perceptions that still seem to persist in our culture when it comes to people of color, particularly to African Americans.  The President felt it was important enough for him to address the issue, in spite of the fact that he knew his political opponents would jump on anything he said, and try to use it against him.  And the whole trial revolves around a controversial Florida law, “Stand your Ground”, that directly relates to an individual carrying a loaded gun, and legally being able to use it, so it is a gun control issue.

The Discussion about Race

It is pretty obvious that having this discussion about the racial aspects of this case are necessary.  To call this “race baiting,” or accuse those who are protesting the verdict of “playing the race card” is absolute evidence of a lack of understanding of the past history of racism in this country, and a lack of awareness that it still exists today, even though a lot of progress has been made.  Race still plays a role in opportunity in this country, a fact that is verified by hard evidence across a wide variety of categories, including employment, and the criminal justice system.  How many white teenagers have been shot to death because they were suspected of being about to commit a crime, and were walking through a gated community wearing a hoodie?  I don’t think there have been any, and even if there were a few, I don’t think any of the shooters got off by pleading self-defense behind the protection of a quirky law that is not consistently enforced.

In the politically charged and polarized atmosphere that exists in the country today, pushed by a few media types who profit from keeping a small group of people stirred up, I am not sure that the discussion that is taking place will accomplish a whole lot.  It’s going to take people from all parts of the racial spectrum, first to acknowledge that there is still a problem, and second, to take steps to resolve it.  There are a lot of white Christians who see the problem, but don’t step up to do anything about it because they fear what their friends might say, or that they will get labeled by some nefarious political term like “liberal,” when the fact of the matter is that this issue has nothing to do with either political conservatism or liberalism.  Those who throw those kinds of accusations around are conceding that they have nothing of value to contribute to the debate or discussion and they prefer to keep the status quo in place rather than risk change.

The “Stand Your Ground” Law Discussion

I don’t believe much consideration was given to the effects of laws like Florida’s “stand your ground” in their practical application.  The standard defense of them is that they give ordinary citizens the ability to defend themselves against the commission of a crime that affects them, or that they see happening.  They are, generally, laws which promote the private, concealed carrying of weapons, which is why this has become a right wing political issue, and why it has been necessary to choose sides and become hypercritical of the prosecution, and ultimately, to make a gangster out of Trayvon Martin.

There is real fear that all of this attention will impact “stand your ground” laws negatively.  There are a lot of states where galvanizing the opposition, and giving them a reason to turn out and vote in the mid-term elections would lead to a change in the party in power.  Florida is one of those.  Regardless of that, there’s never anything wrong with a lot of people having a lot of discussion, even if it is heated discussion, on the laws of their state and their importance.  No one should be afraid of that, everyone should welcome the opportunity.   Maybe this will break some of the gridlock we’ve seen in recent years.

Opportunity for a Positive Outcome

I can’t speak for Trayvon’s parents, but I think they would feel that their son’s death was not in vain if something positive in the way of race relations comes out of it.  It would be a great legacy for a seventeen year old to leave behind if his death prompted a discussion that led to some real solutions of real problems in this country.  There’s no way to go except forward and up.

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About LS

I'm 56, happily married for 25 years, B.A., M.A., career educator with experience in education as a teacher and administrator, native Arizonan living in Pennsylvania, working on a PhD and a big fan of the Arizona Wildcats, mainly in football and basketball.

24 responses

  1. K Gray says:

    Let the discussions commence.

    But most stand-your-ground comments I’ve heard/read have been very uninformed. As Christians we too often repeat things that may not be true, or speculate, or fall back on partisanship. But we should speak truth.

    The greater truth of course if that violent loss of life is a tragedy, a failure of humanity.

    On stand your ground, we should understand that these laws are often bipartisan. They exist in states such as Michigan, Louisiana, New Hampshire and Montana. They’ve gone into effect under governors as diverse as Janet Napolitano and Jennifer Granholm and Joe Manchin. Florida’s law passed their Senate unanimously.

    The Tampa Bay newspaper has done an incredible analysis of stand-your-ground type cases in Florida:
    http://www.tampabay.com/stand-your-ground-law/fatal-cases

    Some have expressed concern that repealing stand-your-ground laws will end up putting more minorities behind bars. I haven’t looked at the data enough to know. Will such repeal save more lives? As Christians I hope we will not speculate on worldly matters, but only speak in well-founded and informed ways How tragic if Christians jump on bandwagons not knowing where we’re headed.

  2. K Gray says:

    One more thing: Zimmerman did not use a stand-your-ground defense. He waived a stand-your-ground hearing that he could have had prior to trial. The jury did not answer a separate question on stand-your-ground. There was a long jury instruction on “justifiable homicide” that was basically on self-defense, and which included a sentence stating that the defendant had no duty to retreat if several conditions were met. Apparently the jury believed that at the moment of “self-defense” Zimmerman was pinned and could not retreat. So it’s unclear whether this case turned on stand-your-ground or instead on self-defense principles common in every state. Just not sure.

  3. Lee says:

    I don’t think we’ll hear from this particular jury any more, perhaps years down the road, but not now, so I don’t think we’ll know. I’ve heard and read some commentary that says if it wasn’t for the stand your ground law, the absence of a living eyewitness, and a victim dead of a gunshot wound almost always gets a manslaughter conviction, There’s wide discretion in the sentencing that takes circumstances into consideration.

    The problem with stand your ground laws is whether they deter crime, or whether they encourage people to put themselves in greater danger than they would be if they simply retreated, and in the case where it might prompt someone to be more aggressive than they normally would. Laws like this most always deal with a fringe element of the population that needs legal boundaries for restraint, and that has a tendency to take advantage of situations that arise when the boundaries are moved or changed. The reaction to this verdict has brought forth a segment of the population, and it’s not just African Americans, who see the implementation of such laws as negative. Many of them were passed “under the table” in attempts to escape the awareness of the media, and of the population at large, to avoid ballot box consequences. If it does nothing else, the discussion will allow the voters to have a say in whether they remain on the books, or whether they are repealed. And that’s a good thing.

  4. Karen says:

    I disagree with much of that analysis. Here there were eyewitnesses besides Zimmerman, and the jury found them credible if incomplete.(see Anderson Cooper interview of juror). And the Tampa Bay database of Florida cases shows many outcomes. And I don’t know what “under the table” means if, as here, the vote was bipartisan. I think it may mean that the media and pundits are very late to the table on learning what the actual trial was about, having played fast and loose with it from the outset.

    • Lee says:

      There were no actual eyewitnesses to the struggle between Zimmerman and Martin. There were witnesses, disputing whether the voice on the 911 call calling for help was that of Zimmerman or Martin, and the judge shut down admitting a voice analysis. The juror in Anderson Cooper’s interview might have just said up front that her mind was made up before she was even selected to the Jury, her expressions, language, and use of familiar terms clearly demonstrated her bias. How she got past the prosecution is a mystery to me, unless the other potential jurors exhibited even more pre-conceived bias. I don’t think the chances of hearing much more from the jurors is very high, because the defense, and its political supporters, have a keen interest in making sure that nothing leaks out that would taint the verdict. The one who did talk mentioned a book deal, but then backed away after the other jurors distanced themselves from her perspective. I’m guessing that what they are being paid not to say anything publicly is greater than what they would earn if they did write a book.

      The one witness who actually provided clear information about what happened, because she was on the phone with Martin at the time, was discredited because during the defense questioning the attorneys took advantage of her nervousness and her lack of full command of the English language, and deliberately made her nervous, then tried to discredit her testimony as a result. You can buy that kind of legal defense if you are bankrolled by people who have a political interest in seeing a particular verdict come from a trial.

      Yeah, I looked at that database of Florida cases, too. What it says is that the “Stand Your Ground” law is far too subjective in its application. and Florida’s record of prosecution of African Americans reflects similar percentages of other Southern states, where they are four times more likely to be prosecuted for a crime than a white person.

      What I mean by passage of laws “under the table” is the tactic employed by states with Republican controlled legislatures and governors. The business is conducted in advance, the law is written in advance, and it is discussed and passed almost immediately, in order to keep the opposition from initiating procedures in the rules of order which allow for discussion, and gets the word out. That’s why this particular discussion is important. It makes people aware of what their own legislature might have done with regard to passage of laws they don’t like. As Joy Reed pointed out the other night, there might not ever be a reconciliation of the verdict in the Zimmerman trial, but it has opened up the discussion and motivated millions to get involved which will lead to organized efforts to change things at the ballot box, and that would make Trayvon’s death and his family’s suffering count for something.

  5. Karen says:

    From Reuters during the trial: ” [jonathan] Good was the fourth former neighbor who partially witnessed the death of Martin on February 26, 2012 to testify in thetrial. Each has given a slightly different account, but Good is the first to state that Martin was on top during the struggle.” Each was a partial eyewitness.

    You are certainly a quicker analyst than I. In late May, The Civil Rights Divesion of the Justice Dept. proposed a $100,000 state by state review of stand your ground laws, and said it would require going to courthouses all across the nation. So, in a year or so we will have much more information.

  6. Jack Matthews says:

    Good discussion. Mind if I step in?
    Self defense laws vary from state to state. There are places where second degree homicide would not have been difficult to prove. It gets complicated, but the general principle has to do with the weight of a threat when one person in a scuffle has a gun, and the other one doesn’t. And like most other issues with differences of opinion, it is about a 50-50 proposition. Zimmerman would likely have been convicted in as many as 27 other states, less so in about 21 others,

    And like everything else, stand your ground laws have been passed in some states with bi-partisan support, voted down completely in others with bi-partisan support, and in some cases, passed “under the table” or hidden in a whole pack of bills passed at the end of a session.

    There’s talk of both a civil law suit filed by Trayvon’s parents, and civil rights charges filed by the US Justice Deparment. In a civil suit, filed by Trayvon’s parents, the emphasis would be less on self defense and “stand your ground,” and more on the one on one confrontation and the necessity of using the gun. It is highly likely that a jury would find in favor of Martin. A civil rights charge would be much more difficult to prove.

    There will be far reaching effects, in terms of politics. The right wing media, Hannity and O’Reilly on Fox, and Limbaugh on the radio, with their criticism of those who have supported Martin, and now, of the President for his comments on the case, is definitely going to galvanize support against conservative candidates. It’s still more than a year to the 2014 elections, but this is big enough to have an impact. The last thing in the world that conservatives want to happen is something to cause the surge of Democratic voters who have elected the President by comfortable margins twice to get back to the polls in a mid term election.

  7. K Gray says:

    The most disgraceful fact-bending incident — among several — from major media, to me, is NBC’s doctoring of the 911 call. Horrible race-inflaming! Other hype and conjecture and pontificating certainly came from media large and small all over the political spectrum. (I don’t expect anyone here to agree with that). We are not an informed citizenry; we are a misled citizenry.

    I thought the President spoke very well ahead of the Trayvon Martin rallies. He mentioned “beyond a reasonable doubt” as a key to criminal prosecution. He noted context and differing perceptions. And he highlighted the Martin family’s incredible grace and dignity.

    What I hope is that the President’s call to look at ways to encourage African-American boys will eventually expand to encompass boys of all races stuck in low-hope situations. I just wonder what Hispanic parents are thinking, and families of any race stuck in Detroit, for example. But that’s for another day.

  8. K Gray says:

    One question (a bit off topic): you mentioned Zimmerman’s defense was bankrolled by people who had a political interest in a particular verdict. Who was it?

  9. Lee says:

    Jack is an attorney. He’s not in Florida, but he probably has a little bit more insight than we do from just reading whatever media reports we choose.

    If you are looking for fact bending, you would have plenty of success finding it among the radio deejay Nazis and Fox commentators. They’re about as on target with this case as they were with the presidential election polls.

    Who bankrolled Zimmerman’s defense? I’m not sure, but given cost of his defense, and the reported expenses on his defense website, I would guess that any number of right wing political groups probably collected on his behalf, I did see a couple of posts on Facebook with a web address to contribute. And his defense fund website, http://www.gzdefensefund.com/donate/ has a stated goal of $30,000 a month for an indefinite period of time to pay for ongoing “security,” living expenses and some undefined expenditures. The interesting claim on the site is that his funds were limited, whereas the prosecution had “unlimited resources” to work for a guilty verdict. Well, no, not really, but it is a good thought to help raise money. I guess they have to pay for the lawsuit against NBC, too,

    The Huffington Post has a slightly different perspective.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jj-colagrande/why-i-contributed-to-geor_b_1668957.html
    They focus on the lies Zimmerman told the judge about his savings, and his resources, and note that he originally set up a defense fund website himself.

    The fund is not tax deductible, which means that the contributors can keep their identity a secret. I must admit, the dollar amounts are not as large as I thought they might be, though it appears that the defense team got a lot more than just a lot of publicity. I wonder if some of the radio deejay Nazis contributed, given that this gave them a whole lot of material, and they seemed particularly focused on making this a racial issue, and attempting to capitalize on the political side as well. If there is a civil suit, there’s obviously plenty to go after.

    Here’s your best two paragraphs, K Gray:
    “I thought the President spoke very well ahead of the Trayvon Martin rallies. He mentioned “beyond a reasonable doubt” as a key to criminal prosecution. He noted context and differing perceptions. And he highlighted the Martin family’s incredible grace and dignity.

    What I hope is that the President’s call to look at ways to encourage African-American boys will eventually expand to encompass boys of all races stuck in low-hope situations. I just wonder what Hispanic parents are thinking, and families of any race stuck in Detroit, for example. But that’s for another day.”

    There will be a time to expand the encouragement. But right now, African Americans needed the President, who has not focused an inordinate amount of attention on either his own racial background, or the specific issues and problems they put high on the political and social agenda, to speak out on this, and he did. And that’s one clear sign that there is progress in this area, and that things are different now. Unlike the Civil Rights movement, there’s a man in the White House now who does understand, and who shares a common experience. That’s a huge difference.

  10. Lee says:

    If you want to read a much better version of the “other side” beyond the rhetoric of the right wing media, this is the best piece I’ve read.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324448104578618681599902640.html

    The credibility of all of Steele’s claim rests on this sentence:
    The purpose of today’s civil-rights establishment is not to seek justice, but to seek power for blacks in American life based on the presumption that they are still, in a thousand subtle ways, victimized by white racism.

    If that statement is true, then Steele has a legitimate and powerful argument. If it isn’t, then he’s just writing from his already predictably biased perspective.

    And the verdict is…

  11. K Gray says:

    About the Zimmerman trial itself: I am also an attorney (retired), and as such rely not on right wing media — or any blog or opinion or commentary or even AP — but as close to original sources as I can get (here, Zimmerman court docs online, FBI crime stats, Tampa Bay news crime-data compilation, Reuters, Anderson Cooper juror interview transcript, Pres. Obama speech transcript, Huffington Post and The Root for various reactions and perspectives).

    [For example, I found another analysis of the effect of stand-your-ground laws in several states. It said that such laws are loosely correlated with increases in homicide. That’s evidence! A state may want to reconsider, based on that evidence. But the study could not conclude that such laws were racially discriminatory because the quantity of white-on-black crime was too statistically small. In crimes where S-Y-G came into play, most were white-on-white, black-on-black running a close second, black-on-white far below that, and too few white-on-black from which to draw conclusions. Why this matters: it may mean no federal jurisdiction].

    About Steele and civil rights: I have no idea. He’s writing in his specialty, the history of civil rights and race relations; whereas you and I and many others are hearing mothers and fathers saying “can my son walk to the corner store without fear of harm?” and “could he actually be killed and no one punished?” That is the day-to-day gut-wrenching worry that makes people despair about the state of race relations… whether or not that is currently, objectively, the main problem.

  12. K Gray says:

    Also Steele, like the President, has a black father and white mother, is highly educated and accomplished, an author and speaker, attractive middle aged man (same with his twin brother). But he comes to different conclusions; I’m not sure how that is “predictably biased.” Seems like this is an area in which reasonable minds can differ even with similar racial backgrounds.

  13. Colby Evans says:

    Wow. Two lawyers in the discussion. Your title is correct, after reading all of this, we definitely needed to have the discussion.

    Read the piece by Steele. I heard a news commentator, probably on MSNBC, make the statement that if Steele were a contemporary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he’d be the vocal opposition to the civil rights movement. His basic philosophy is based on the belief that African Americans don’t need help pulling themselves up by their shoestrings, they just need to shake off the past and work hard, probably because that is what he did. He did have advantages that most of his fellow African Americans didn’t, such as a mother who was actively involved in the civil rights and racial equality movement, and a relatively affluent home environment, though in Chicago, somewhat removed from the ghetto. He’s missed his guess on several social predictions, among them a book he wrote in 2007 listing reasons why Barack Obama could never be elected President of the US. And he was among the recent predictors of his demise in his run for re-election. And those are just two of many statements he’s made, in writing and speaking, which haven’t turned out according to his perspective. That would lead me to evaluate the credibility of the statement from the piece you cited to fall into the same pattern of missed guesses, inaccuracy, and lack of credibility which are characteristic of his commentary.

    And, I think there is plenty of hard evidence that many African Americans still are, in many ways, victimized by white racism. Maybe not like they once were, but still enough to matter, and require rectifying.

  14. K Gray says:

    Did the MSNBC-er read that article? Steele praised civil rights founders to the heavens! He says they “transformed a nation” with a successful movement “begun in profound moral clarity.” He says because this “great social transformation” SUCCEEDED, current leaders cannot be “a Martin Luther King Jr. or a James Farmer or a Nelson Mandela. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton cannot write a timeless letter to us from a Birmingham jail or walk, as John Lewis did in 1965, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., into a maelstrom of police dogs and billy clubs. That America is no longer here (which is not to say that every trace of it is gone).”

    Does this sound like a guy who doesn’t think MLK was right in his time???

    I don’t agree with the remaining “authority” thesis but it seems like the MSNBC guy would at least get Steele’s premise that the civil rights movement and its leaders were great, heroes, transformative and largely successful. He just thinks the original remedies have now become counterproductive.

    Is this article going around some left-leaning blogs? I only saw it here, but coincidentally, a very liberal friend posted it on her Facebook today.

  15. K Gray says:

    Correction: some original remedies, primarily affirmative action (and that’s just from this article, I never heard of him before today so I can’t summarize his overall view).

  16. Lee says:

    I vaguely remember hearing a word or two about Shelby Steele prior to linking his post here.

    While he is correct that the America that existed during the Civil Rights movement is no longer here, and no longer the same, I would not say that the movement has achieved its goals. I would say that it has made a lot of progress toward achieving its goals, but that in many ways, racism has found new ways of expressing itself, in addition to not being completely eliminated in its old form. I’d say that, if Interstate 10 represented the full length of accomplishment of the work of racial equality in America, and we started the trip in Jacksonville, Florida (sorry, couldn’t resist the analogy), we would be approaching the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge right about now. Once you leave Florida, the distance across the states is shorter, but we are only about halfway there.

    It does seem that he’s missed the mark on a lot of his more recent commentary. Do I detect perhaps a note of jealousy, or academic elitism that he’s not the person African Americans are turning to for leadership in racial equality struggles, but instead, they look to people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson? And whatever you think of the latter two, they have plenty of experience, and battle scars. There is evidence, and I believe the Trayvon Martin incident is part of it, that African Americans are still very much victimized by white racism. In the old fashioned way, not so much, but it has managed to continue its creep into the culture.

  17. J O E B L A C K M O N says:

    Dwight McKissic is OBVIOUSLY basing his opinion on racial considerations NOT the law. For instance, he said “Based on the testimony that (1) Zimmerman was counseled not to pursue Trayvon & despite the denials on this thread–(2) Neighborhood Watch Groups are trained not to carry weapons. Furthermore, (3) Zimmerman’s attitude toward Trayvom solely based on externals give me a window into his mind and his decision making process. Therefore, based on these three facts, I would have voted guilty.”

    Now, let’s see here, did Zimmerman break the law when following Trayvon even though the opporator SUGGESTED that he not do that (1)? No he didn’t. Did Zimmerman break the law when he carried the firearm that was legal for him to carry (2)? No he did not. And finally, was Zimmerman’s attitude, which was obviiously not racist, in violation of any law (3)? No it was not.

    So, in SPITE of the fact that Dwight did NOT hear the evidence and testimony presented in court, and despite the fact the three facts he said made the man guilty were not the violation of any law, Dwight said he would have voted guilty.

    That’s because instead of viewing this from a biblical standpoint with a biblical perspective, Dwight is viewing this through a racial perspective with a victim mentality. “Whitey is out to get me, Whitey is out to get me!!!!”

    • Lee says:

      Let me point out a couple of things, here. The context of a reply related to Dwight McKissic’s blog, which can be found on both his blog site, and at SBC Voices, is missing from this article and thread. So if you’re wondering why his name suddenly appeared, Joe is responding here to something he saw there. You can click the link to either site and read what Dwight wrote.

      Knowing the kind of attitudes and mindset he was facing, Dwight went ahead and made an attempt to help people understand the reason and feelings behind the reaction, particularly of African Americans, to this trial verdict. African Americans are, by no means, the only ones who have had a negative reaction, but there is a set of circumstances related to a long history of discrimination, and incidents like this only open those wounds. In spite of a lot of progress, there are places in the criminal justice system where leftover discrimination still occurs. Dwight put forth his own perspective and evaluation of the Zimmerman verdict on the same basis that everyone else has done, viewing the same parts of the trial that the rest of us got to see, and with the same limited perspective that the rest of us have, which he acknowledged. He did it with a high level of respect for the opinions and perspective of those who disagree, which is a demonstration of the Christian character you would expect from a minister of the Gospel.

      There were a lot of factors surrounding the incident that led to the verdict. Zimmerman opted not to testify, so the jury didn’t get to hear any defense questioning about the inconsistent statements he gave to police. His victim couldn’t dispute his perspective of the events. There were only six jurors, and the jury instructions were lengthy and detailed. Dwight brought up legitimate points.

      You’ve certainly expressed your feelings, expressing contempt for the pain that those who disagree with the verdict are feeling, and writing as if your opinion is the only correct view, and therefore is the only one that matters. I’ve noticed that most of those who post at SBC Voices, even those that share your perspective, don’t acknowledge your posts, and simply ignore them. Dwight, in putting forth his perspective, was respectful. He didn’t stomp on those who disagreed, or use vitriolic phrases intended to inflame. Nor did he express a divisive attitude, using the difference of opinion as a means to set himself above those who differ, and as a way to divide and separate.

      Readers can look at your posts and draw their own conclusions. I sure have.

  18. Lee says:

    With the comments of a second jury member out, the discussion takes another turn. If there is a civil trial, it is going to be extremely difficult to seat a jury anywhere in the country that hasn’t had a level of media exposure and coverage that would render their verdict unbiased and fair. If I were the attorney that was filing the case, a change of venue away from Seminole County and Sanford would be at the top of the list, but where else in Florida could you go that would be a whole lot better, in terms of exposure of potential jurors? Or an impartial judge, for that matter?

    The trial verdict has certainly had an impact in some areas. One, Florida, and several other states, are looking much closer at “Stand your ground” and self defense laws. I have mixed feelings about those kinds of laws, and I don’t think the price we pay, in terms of someone not being held responsible for a decision they chose to make, is worth it. It also appears, from news reports and comments I’ve seen on the news networks, that the verdict, along with the lack of reasonable progress on immigration reform, is driving up Democratic party voter registration, especially in Florida. That’s something to consider as well.

  19. Jack Matthews says:

    One of the things that attracted me to the legal profession in the first place was the variety that comes with each individual case. Like people, no two are exactly the same. I looked at a lot of the on-line stuff from this case. No doubt. it was quite complicated for the jury, especially when it came to the instructions they were given, and the way the laws were intended to be applied. I’d have thought the deliberation would have lasted longer than it did, especially if what the jurors have said about one wanting second degree and two wanting manslaughter at the beginning of the process, was true.

    I read the piece by Steele. I watch MSNBC, and I did hear some comments on one of Al Sharpton’s programs, and maybe Rachel Maddow too, about Steele’s background with regard to the current civil rights movement. They may be mis-characterizing him when it comes to his whole perspective about the civil rights movement. The Civil Rights movement pointed out where the culture was stacked against people of color, and pointed to things that needed to be done to fix that. Affirmative action, the voting rights act, things like that were aimed at correcting the inequities, with the assumption that at some point down the road, these things would be accepted as par for the course, and would lose their necessity. The problem is that, without them, things tend to move back toward where they once were. I think civil rights goes hand in hand with political power, you can’t have civil rights without political power. And you’re right when you point out that racism, when blocked as it moves down one road, makes a turn and shows up in other expressions where it is harder to root out. Whether Steele is mis-characterized or not, African Americans in this country are still victimized by racism in a thousand different ways, most prevalently in the justice system, which is not color blind.

  20. K Gray says:

    I appreciated the exchange at SBC voices and my overall takeaway is that we have all – all — in some way speculated and concluded about things we don’t know. (I hope someone will write an exhaustive chronology of the media treatment of this tragedy; it is a case study of malfeasance). I tried hard not to speak without adequate research, not to say anything misleading or disrespectful or unverifiable, but I fell into it – commenting on juror B29 without viewing/hearing her ABC interview segments (I’m not sure the full unedited interview is out yet). This was arrogance, and I’m sorry for it. Upon hearing her comments I see her anguish — standing by the verdict under the law, but in doing so feeling pain and complicity in Martin’s death. She did what jurors are instructed to do — putting passion and prejudice and emotion aside and deciding on the facts and law — and this haunts her. She certainly disclaimed that race played a role in jury deliberations. She feels Zimmerman is “guilty” “Guilty of what?” “Guilty of killing Trayvon Martin” but couldn’t find sufficient evidence to fit the jury charges on second-degree murder or manslaughter. She said she wished people would read the instructions and see the choices the jury had to make.

    I had to get beyond misleading headlines and snippet quotes to hear what she said (I actually took notes). Then I had to try to correct online what I had said about her before, when I assumed (ugh) she was simply disclaiming her vote.James was right, the tongue (keyboard?) sets things aflame, and no one can master it.

    What we have is another national moment in which many realize only the Lord can heal hearts and reconcile divides.

  21. K Gray says:

    Also I appreciate yours and Jack Matthews’ perspectives on civil rights and where we are now. I don’t know how to gauge that; we all have work to do. Thanks for the discussion.

  22. Lee says:

    O.K., I’m going to put this out there at the risk of hearing crickets in the silence that may follow. I’ve been called to jury duty just twice, both times in county seat towns just outside major metro areas in Texas. In both cases, there were jurors who brought up the concept of “jury nullification” and a long discussion ensued over whether a jury had the right to acquit a defendant if there was unanimous agreement that the law violated was troublesome, unfair, or should not have been enacted. In Texas, it didn’t seem there was any recourse against a jury that nullified a law by acquittal of a defendant. Though it doesn’t appear this jury would have done this, I wonder if it was a possibility. Just curious.