Letter to the Editor: Profiling the Martin Case

Dear Editor,

It’s amazing the conclusions you can jump to without a lot of information. And it’s amazing the kind of things people will believe based on nothing but hearsay.
That’s what bothers me about the Martin case- we don’t have all the facts. The issue has transgressed a possibly unwarranted shooting and turned into a race battle.

Was Martin racially profiled? There are arguments on both sides. Yes, he was a black kid walking through a gated community who was then followed by the neighborhood watch. But he was described by the shooter as an “asshole” and a “punk,” things adults at some point or another have called most teenagers. I struggle sometimes to keep up with the infinite terms that are politically incorrect, but I believe “punk” and “asshole” remain simply lewd and are racially neutral.

Let’s try another angle. Would a student at Washington College living off campus feel uncomfortable with a group of people in hoodies congregating around their stoop at night? If they couldn’t see the color of their skin, would it matter?
Let’s try one more. I’ve traveled through a few communities with neighborhood watches and the streets are littered with signs that proclaim NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH IN EFFECT REPORT SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY CALL. We can all agree that in the eyes of a neighborhood watch that a teen in a hoodie walking through a gated neighborhood that has been prone to break-ins could be interpreted as “suspicious.” Zimmerman himself says during his recorded call that he was frustrated by break-ins in the community.

I think I’ve defended a possible series of events that portrays a less racist Zimmerman. Do I agree with how everything happened? Zimmerman following Martin despite police orders not to, the altercation and shooting? Of course not. A gun is a hefty thing. It requires a level of responsibility that Zimmerman showed he lacks.
In no way do I believe racism isn’t a problem that plagues our country. There are incidents of unjust profiling (both race-related and otherwise) that just shouldn’t happen, but do every day. Despite this, we can’t jump to the conclusion that a crime was committed based on racial profiling just because the two individuals on opposite sides of the altercation were of two different races. Isn’t that a kind of profiling itself? Doesn’t that make us just as bad as the original profilers?
Did Zimmerman profile Martin? Is this a matter of race and not a matter of law? I don’t know. And guess what? Neither do you.

-Parker McIntosh ‘13

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