As outrage continues to build around the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black boy deemed "suspicious" for wearing a hoodie while walking at night, the national discussion on racial profiling and police brutality continues to be wildly unhelpful. Does Race Play a Role Even Though the shooter is not White? That's Fox News' big question. Subtle as a sledgehammer as always, Fox. No question of systemic racism or racial profiling; no question that the gunman, George Zimmerman, would already be behind bars if he'd shot an unarmed white teenager based merely on the vague hunch that he "looked suspicious" in his hoodie.
I don't know about you, but I'm getting flashbacks to Amadou Diallo, the 22-year-old African immigrant from Guinea who was shot 41 times by Bronx police who thought he was reaching for a gun; when in reality, he was simply reaching for his wallet to provide the identification that they themselves had just asked for. All four NYPD officers were acquitted of all charges.
Today, gunman George Zimmerman-- who was patrolling the streets with a gun yet no badge, simply as a member of a local neighborhood watch group-- has yet to even be charged with a crime. Public outcry continues, but if you're in the NYC area tonight, come to Union Square at 6pm for the Million Hoodie March, organized by friends and supporters of the Martin family, and timed to coincide with UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It may be small comfort to Trayvon's family and friends; but visibilty does matter. Gathering together to make a public statement that this is a race crime, and not simply a tragic accident, will influence the national dialogue and, we can only hope, prevent the next overzealous neighborhood watchman from shooting the next innocent black kid armed only with a pack of Skittles.