I don’t like what George Zimmerman did, and I hate that Trayvon Martin is dead. But I also can understand why Zimmerman was suspicious and why he thought Martin was wearing a uniform we all recognize. I don’t know whether Zimmerman is a racist. But I’m tired of politicians and others who have donned hoodies in solidarity with Martin and who essentially suggest that, for recognizing the reality of urban crime in the United States, I am a racist. The hoodie blinds them as much as it did Zimmerman.You're right. You are. My daughter wears a hoodie, she is wearing one right now, as have a good portion of her junior high school and elementary school classmates. Movie stars go down the street wearing hoodies. People on their way home from the gym wear hoodies. The Washington Post sells Washington Post-branded hoodies. Nobody ever thinks of shooting a white 12-year-old girl for wearing a hoodie, but a black boy only a few years older wearing one is donning the uniform of a "thug."
[T]he public knows young black males commit a disproportionate amount of crime. In New York City, blacks make up a quarter of the population, yet they represent 78 percent of all shooting suspects — almost all of them young men. We know them from the nightly news.You are confusing poverty with race. You are watching the crimes of broken, neglected neighborhoods and presuming a genetic underclass. You are using black skin as a marker for poverty, an easy way for you and the police to both tell when a person might be from one of the neighborhoods that previous generations put them in. Wall Street bankers commit crimes too, but they are different crimes, and the police do not conduct random searches to check. You are using the hoodie as a marker for poverty as well, and asserting the precise justification for stop-and-frisk that George Zimmerman used to stop a black teenager from walking through his Florida neighborhood. He is black; he doesn't belong here. He is black and I suspect other black teenagers have committed crimes here; he is probably committing a crime here too.
Those statistics represent the justification for New York City’s controversial stop-and-frisk program, which amounts to racial profiling writ large. After all, if young black males are your shooters, then it ought to be young black males whom the police stop and frisk.
Stand on a street corner and count the number of hoodies you see. Now count how many of them would get stopped by a law-minded stranger for walking down the wrong sidewalk.
The problems of the black underclass are hardly new. They are surely the product of slavery, the subsequent Jim Crow era and the tenacious persistence of racism. They will be solved someday, but not probably with any existing programs. For want of a better word, the problem is cultural, and it will be solved when the culture, somehow, is changed.Then change it. Stop treating the shooting of a black man by a black man as a horrific crime while treating the shooting of a black man by a white man as an unfortunate but understandable accident. Stop claiming that a black man on the street carrying a gun is up to no good, but that a white man carrying the same gun is merely protecting himself—no, is a patriot. Stop sending a black woman to prison for 20 years for firing a warning shot when confronted with an abusive ex, while defending as freedom the right for a white man to confront an innocent black stranger and shoot them dead if things get out of hand. It will change when you are not allowed to use he was black and many black men are criminals as a rationale for suspecting someone, approaching someone, and shooting someone.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Zimmerman profiled Martin and, braced by a gun, set off in quest of heroism. The result was a quintessentially American tragedy — the death of a young man understandably suspected because he was black and tragically dead for the same reason.Be the change you seek. Change it yourself. It will change when the thinkers of the nation do not nod their heads and say yes, it was all understandable. He saw a black teen on the sidewalk; it was understandable.