Our View: Martin case sparks important discussion

DKS Editors

By now, you’ve likely heard some mention of Trayvon Martin.

He was the 17-year-old African American from Florida who was shot by a neighborhood watchman, with the details of why the man pulled the trigger still clouded.

The watchman, George Zimmerman, called police after seeing Martin to report he looked like he was “up to no good,” the New York Times reported. Martin was walking home from a convenience store in a sweatshirt with the hood up.

Zimmerman continued to follow Martin despite the dispatcher saying, “You don’t need to do that.”

Seconds later, Zimmerman got out of the car. He’s told police that Martin attacked him, and he was simply acting in self-defense. Again, the truth has yet to be uncovered — who knows if it ever will.

This incident has caused an uproar surrounding the idea that a young African American man can’t walk at night in a hoodie without being viewed as suspicious. Some are angry that it’s been made into a race issue, urging this could’ve just been an act of self-defense.

But the problem with that argument is that this topic isn’t new. Martin’s death has brought up issues that existed long before he was shot — but hopefully ones that won’t exist long after.

His death, though probably unavoidable and undoubtedly tragic, has sparked a debate worth examining no matter the outcome of this particular scenario.

Parents of young black men across the U.S. are now being given a platform to voice their concern for their children. This certainly isn’t a new issue to them, though it’s new to many of us.

Why do these parents still live with the fear that someone might view their son with unreasonable skepticism?

“This is the fear that seizes me whenever my boys are out in the world: that a man with a gun and an itchy finger will find them ‘suspicious,’” wrote Charles Blow, op-ed columnist for the Times. “That passions may run hot and blood run cold. That it might all end with a hole in their chest and hole in my heart.”

It’s unjust, absurd and completely infuriating that these parents have to think this way.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.