Trayvon Martin was killed one short month ago and the media firestorm is not slowing down anytime soon.
Trayvon, a 17-year-old Florida boy who is now infamous for sporting a “suspicious-looking” hoodie on his way home from a convenience store, was shot Feb. 26 by George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch participant. Zimmerman claims the shooting was in self-defense because Trayvon assaulted him by punching his nose and repeatedly slamming his head into the sidewalk.
After reading numerous articles and listening to a 911 call placed by Zimmerman, I am torn on the issue of whether or not this shooting is a racial profiling case as activists have suggested, or whether stereotypes about “suspicious-looking” people were taken entirely too far. I personally have felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when walking alone late at night and felt eyes on my back—my mind takes my surroundings into account and I react to signs of danger before I even know they’re present. I walk with my keys between my fingers and am constantly running through self-defense moves I could potentially execute. I am continually looking around for people hidden in shadows and often talk on the phone with my boyfriend or mother so in the off chance I am attacked, someone can call 911 immediately.
According to a witness account, Trayvon noticed someone following him and he reacted instinctually in self-defense: He started to run from Zimmerman and only accosted him after Trayvon was allegedly pushed. If I had been in Trayvon’s position and was approached from behind by a stranger, I likely would have reacted in an adrenaline-fueled, volatile manner, as well.
The sort of antsy behavior I display while walking alone in the dark could be misinterpreted by a neighborhood watch guard as being “on drugs” as Zimmerman concluded of Trayvon in his 911 call. And if I am also wearing a hooded sweatshirt, this immediately deems me as “suspicious-looking” and warrants police investigation. Is that okay? Of course it’s not.