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George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin, and Human Worth
As the George Zimmerman Trial comes to a close, the real defendant is Trayvon Martin. While Trayvon Martin is also the shooting-death victim, the Prosecution and the Defense have created a moment in our justice system in which the Condemnation of Blackness, youth, and being male are not worthy of adequate and fair representation in the court of law. Trayvon Martin’s death and the George Zimmerman Trial is about the legacy of how we defend the living and posthumous worth for all people.
The consideration of a Third Degree Felony Murder Charge based on child abuse is really the first time any ounce of empathy is afforded to Trayvon Martin—a 17 year-old child. But, it is short lived. Not only does the Defense argue that the Prosecution is playing “tricks” by asserting this charge, Judge Nelson also denies the jury the opportunity to even consider charging George Zimmerman with Third Degree Felony Murder on the basis of child abuse because she feels that the charge does not meet what this case is all about.
While justice is supposed to be blind, the reality is that it is not. While each of us should be afforded the luxury of being innocent until being proven guilty, we are not. While due process is supposed to apply to every person according to the 14th Amendment, it does not. Trayvon Martin was followed and ultimately hunted down like prey and George Zimmerman said it was “God’s plan” for Mr. Martin to meet his demise—shot dead—face-down in cold, wet grass in an apartment complex, on a passing where dogs are walked. Trayvon Martin’s life had no worth or dignity and so he was killed.
While we may like to believe that after the election of President Obama in 2009 America had become this post-racial utopia, The George Zimmerman Trial and shooting death of Trayvon Martin is evidence that America is not.
Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court that ruled in the 1857 Dred Scott vs. Sanford case asserted and supported that the Framers of Constitution believed that Blacks, “have no rights that a white man is bound to respect.” Despite Zimmerman’s Hispanic mother, Zimmerman himself identified as a white man. In his 911 call, his disdain of those he felt were unworthy led to his rendering that, “they always get away.” George Zimmerman demonstrated a predatory mentality in which he felt entitled to have his prey, Trayvon Martin, whom Zimmerman had already deemed unworthy of the life heaving inside his young, innocent, Black, and male body.
In our system of capitalism, there is a value placed on every single thing we own—lives are no different as they were once owned via the sanctioned institution of slavery, currently owned via the Prison Industrial Complex, and affixed a price tag based on gender and race. We continue to be stuck in an antiquated system that takes American justice no closer to being blind and fair, and providing all of America’s citizens with human worthiness.
 The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (2011), Khalif Gibran Muhammad discusses when and how having Black skin was directly linked to criminality.