Society Set Up Trayvon Martin

Eric M. believes that although George Zimmerman pulled the trigger, it was our society that set Trayvon Martin up. 


Our society continues to set up inner city black boys and young men for failure, by systematically ignoring them, leaving too many of them with few options beyond a life of cycling between unemployment, minimum wage jobs, and crime. As a result, more than any other demographic, they end up not graduating from high school, not going to college or getting any job skills training, getting arrested, and all too often, getting shot and killed.

All of which perpetuates the stereotypes and prejudice that drove the George Zimmermann’s apparent malice and the police’s callous indifference. Good kids trying to do the right thing like Treyvon Martin end up paying the price for what our society has created.  George Zimmerman pulled the trigger but our society set Treyvon up.

That’s how I see it. Jane Velez-Mitchell of CNN Headline News (HLN) agrees. What do you think?

About Eric M

Eric M. is married with three daughters. He holds a BS in electrical engineering and works in the software industry. He volunteers for an organization that provides no cost healthcare services and is an avid NY sports fan.


  1. Zimmermans story was that he was following Martin only to keep him in sight, not to get closer to him. So, he was barely disregarding the advice from the 911 dispatcher. When he lost sight completely, he turned around and headed back to his SUV. It was at this point, according to him, that Martin approached him closely. They had not spoken prior to this. From photographs, this was a wide open area where no one could have felt cornered.
    I am not getting how T. Martin could be seen as “standing his ground” in this case. Zimmerman, otoh, was on his back getting pounded with no way to escape.
    This is the version of this story that must be overturned before Z. can be convicted of anything.

    • Trayvon Martin was just a black boy. So, Zimmerman has a good chance of getting off. Had he killed a white girl, he would be begging to not get the death penalty.

  2. Anthony Zarat says:

    “Our society continues to set up inner city black boys and young men for failure …”

    True. Probably the single most important injustice in modern America. I don’t think there can be a higher priority.

    “All of which perpetuates the stereotypes and prejudice that drove the George Zimmermann’s apparent malice and the police’s callous indifference …”

    We don’t know this. Right now, it looks to me like this murder simply did not happen in the way that you describe..

    Let me put it another way. Immagine that you looked into Zimmerman’s mind at the moment he pulled the trigger. Immagine that you saw “fear” and not “malice”. Immagine that you looked in Martin’s mind and you also saw “fear” and not “anger”. What have you learned?

    Two people who are mutually afraid of each other + gun = tragic murder.

    Maybe Zimmerman was motivated by malice. That is a narrative that we understand well. The tragedy becomes little more than a political tool, used to advance a pre-existing agenda.

    But if Zimmerman and Martin were both motivated by fear, then the tragedy does not follow ANY narrative. Not the conservative narrative. Not the liberal narrative. Instead, it becomes an opportunity for all of us to learn a new narrative: “fear mongering has a price.” It yields great political benefit. But it has a cost.

    What I see is:

    The liberal left using Martin’s murder to push a pre-existing agenda.
    The conservative right defending itself by pushing its own pre-existing agenda.

    Everyone wants to use this, and nobody wants to learn from it.

    I think Zimmerman was afraid of Martin, and Martin was afraid of Zimmerman. Throw in a gun and really bad luck, and you have a dead child. I base this on very spotty evidence: other 911 calls by Zimmerman. The majority have to do with safety, not security. Kids playing in busy streets, open garage doors, cars not stopping at stop signs. If he was an angry man, he was good at hiding his feelings.

    Pushing fear … makes for great politics. But it makes for bad policy.

    • I did not describe what took place as a murder. Nor did I describe how it took place. However, one does not actively chase down someone they are in fear of when the police are en route. Thus, there is no evidence that, prior to any altercation, Zimmerman had any fear of Martin. 

      Also, the police always have the right to conduct an investigation when someone gets killed. The callous indifference was and is in evidence in that they not only didn’t bother to investigate at the time, but adamantly refused to conduct one, even under pressure. What could possibly be the downside of investigating a killing? 

      Question: what are the odds that an investigation would have been conducted if a 17 year old white girl had been shot and killed in the street? What if the shooter was a black male? Would they have refused to investigate that shooting?

      “The tragedy becomes little more than a political tool, used to advance a pre-existing agenda.”

      The right seldom even pretends to care while the left claims to care but there is no evidence that they care any more than the right does. That is a large part of the problem.

      • Anthony Zarat says:

        “I did not describe what took place as a murder.”

        I described it as murder.

        If Zimmerman was a bad and intolerant man, then the answer is simple. We all get to wash our hands and walk away.

        If Zimmerman was afraid, the answer is more complicated. Why do so many of us fear the black man?

        Do you have an answer? What is the micro-solution? Is there a macro-solution?

        I am Hispanic. Here is what I think people know, but are afraid to say:

        Some law enforcement like to beat up on black people, to make white people feel safe.
        Some white people like to beat up on Hispanics, to make themseves feel superior.

        What does it all mean? I have no idea. I come from Brazil, where everyone wants some black (but not too much). Color in Brazil is a sliding scale. So what does that mean? I have no idea.

        I want to understand, because I have to. I can’t reach male black High School kids. None of the kids believe in themselves, but I can’t reach black boys. Black girls listen. Hispanics are easy. Black boys? Glass wall. They don’t even hear me. Why am I telling you this? I need help. Presumptuous, insulting, stereotypical, even racist — I know. But what the heck. I have to try.

        As to the other thing you point out, of course you are correct:

        The black male is the cheapest life there is.
        The white female is the most expensive life there is.

        • “Black boys? Glass wall. They don’t even hear me. Why am I telling you this? I need help. Presumptuous, insulting, stereotypical, even racist — I know. But what the heck. I have to try.”

          Thank you for trying, and please don’t give up. Kids sometimes hear you years later but you’re not around for them to tell you they heard you. But, also high school is too late for many kids. Also, the problem is not yours. It is a centuries old systematic oppression and discrimination against of black males especially in the United States of America.

          You are seeing evidence of fatigue and despair, just as was hoped for. Keep them down. This has successfully kept and torn black males down, damaged and destroyed generations of families, created often self-destructive anger and rebellion, which results in more despair. It is a cycle that will NOT be broken unless it is 1) acknowledged as having been caused by how this society has dealt with those men, and 2) taken ac tion (not just words) to fix what it continues to tear up.

          The sad reality is that those with voice, those who claim to care about the less fortunately, including those who claim to be for gender inequality, have shown by never acknowledging what has and continues to happen, that black males are excluded from their concern. They are invisbile. Trayvon Martin doesn’t exist. The 256 black males that are murdered each week don’t exist. Providing evidence of your statement:

          Hence, you will never see government funded programs, agencies, or legislation to correct that inequality and imbalance, espressly of the truth of your statement:

          The black male is the cheapest life there is.
          The white female is the most expensive life there is.

          Again, had Trayvon Martin been a 17 year old white girl, would there have been an investigation without protest marches?

  3. Society set up George Zimmerman too. The USA is so violent that we need to do some very deep soul work to figure out why. Suicide, murder, rape, war, gender abuse, school killings all as American as apple pie. Tell me one thing Obama has done to help us deal with the violence here. Poverty is another form of violence MLK recognized that., when will we?

  4. This is not going to turn out well. A lot of people are very angry and are charging off (perhaps being lead) in the direction of expecting that Zimmerman is going to get busted. They are being encouraged to believe a lot of things that will turn out to have never been true Then what? What if there is some kind of street fighting and injuries?
    People need to start adjusting their minds to the fact that Zimmerman is not going to be convicted of anything because, even if the local cops are as stupid, clumsy, maybe racist as some suspect they still are right about the core legal issues. 1. Zimmerman had a right to follow and challenge Martin 2. Martin closed the distance, had him down, and continued to beat on him. The one eye-witness backed up this version that Z. told. This happened in a place where Martin could not have felt cornered.
    What will happen when millions of very upset people have to give up on their dreams of legal vengeance? When it soaks in that it does not matter in the slightest what a dispatcher told Z to do or not do? Or how old TM was. When it becomes undeniable that TM was taller and stronger than Z.
    All of this is coming.
    Everyone who is pushing folks towards outrage will have some splaining to do if/when more die because of misleading publicity.
    I have read about a thousand comments about how z. became guilty as soon as he got out of the truck. I am sure they all believe it.
    Like I said,m this is not going to end well.

    • whoa there, rum… it seems like you too have been lead to believe something that may or may not be true.

      What gives Zimmerman the RIGHT to follow and CHALLENGE ANYONE? Regardless of how suspicious the character looked, he attended local BlockWatch meetings where they specifically tell watch members to NEVER CHALLENGE/CHASE/INTERACT with suspects. Call the police, and allow them to do their job. If he was the supposed “captain” he should have known this, not to mention his concealed weapon goes against the BlockWatch responsibilities as well…

      It seems that you have made an assumption based off ONE side of the story. There is only ONE key witness that supports Zimmermans story, while there are 3-4 different witnesses that say Zimmerman WAS NOT the person screaming for his life. (I never mentioned the reports given by Martin’s girlfriend because she is clearly a friend of his.. im trying to keep bias out of this argument)

      In conclusion, we should let all the facts be presented before we start making conclusions about what’s going to happen to whom.

    • Rum, your comment is beside the point. And your account is not consistent with all that is currently known. But, even if it were, it remains to be seen whether killling someone because you were losing a fight that you started can be considered self-defense, and if the police have an obligation to at least investigate.

      If it is as you argue, if I hate (fill in the blank) I can chase one of them down, start a fight, and then shoot and kill him or her, claiming self-defense. And just go on home with no police investigation.

      Except that probably wouldn’t work unless my victim were a black male.

    • MichelleG says:

      “1. Zimmerman had a right to follow and challenge Martin 2. Martin closed the distance, had him down, and continued to beat on him.”

      The 911 operator told Zimmerman not to follow Martin. Zimmerman provoked Martin by following him and challenging him; Martin had a right to “Stand your ground” too and I think he exercised it. Zimmerman then shot Martin.

      What makes anyone think that Zimmerman had more of a right to “Stand your Ground” than Martin’s? Had Martin lived, and beaten Zimmerman unconscious — Would anyone question that Martin was defending himself from Zimmerman? I think not.

      Zimmerman lived, and spinning his antics as self-defense. He got over-zealous and in his mind probably thought that, that night he was going to be the neighborhood superhero and catch the bad guy. The bad guy turned out to be himself.

  5. Not only do we have to deal with outright racism and racial profiling, we have to deal with “people” who can’t wait to trivialize what happened by bringing up black on black crime because….one can’t be against both or even see black on black crime as a consequence/extension of racism. In any case, if you don’t see how race played a part in this case, put forth any story that can adequately explain what was heard on those tapes. I would love to hear it. Start with how Zimmerman determined Trayvon was suspicious.

    • Anthony Zarat says:

      Why do you put “people” in quotes? If you put “men” or “women” in quotes, it can mean something (that these individuals lack a fundamental quality of maleness/femaleness). It may not be a meaning that people like, but there is a meaning. If you put “people” in quotes, you suggest that they lack a fundamental property of … what? Makes no sense to me.

      • …decency, compassion. They rush to excuse and justify the actions of a killer at the expense of an innocent victim. That is inhumane at best. Therefore I put people in quotes. The following doesn’t pertain to you personally, but I did read your comments below (and others). You can argue that the actual killing wasn’t motivated by race. Maybe he was actually scared during a physical altercation (after they exchanged words). But I’m still waiting to hear someone tell me what his motivation was to pursue him in the first place. I’m still waiting for someone to defend his comments about Trayvon (and let me know what word he said that rhymes with “oon”….soon, poon, goon….lol.). In any case, Zimmerman had no reason to pursue him in the first place. He is responsible for killing an innocent, unarmed person. And I keep hearing from “people” who are more concerned with defending Zimmerman than focusing on the facts that are readily available.

  6. MichelleG says:

    Okay, I’ll be the first to agree here. There is a lot of racism/favoritism going on in a lot of places. Even at the last company i had worked at, it astounded me that there was only ONE black employee working there, and the rest were whites, out staff of like 180. This company was headed by a devout Christian — your skin had to match his, to get the privilege of working for him and his company. He loves homogeneity…everyone else is going to hell 😉

    Out of all the years of working in various industries and companies, there has been only ONE manager of colour/minority — he worked at a Wendy’s restaurant. Unless you own your own company, there seems to be a glass ceiling for minorities — few in management positions. I remember my older brother worked at a well known electronics franchise, did well in sales and was there for awhile, eventually he applied to a manager’s position there…but they turned him down. I don’t think he even got an interview — and my brother has a honors Bachelor degree in Economics! Yeah, everyone says life isn’t fair right?

    And also, a friend told me about a friend of his, he has a diploma or degree in IT, but has been working as a movie concession employee since graduating…like 3 years now. His friend has a very ethnic name — and my friend encouraged him to change his name to an English one on his resume to help increase his interview odds. His friend has very ethnic features and has an accent.

    It seems to me that employers are willing to hire ethnic people, on certain conditions — for example:

    – no accent (unless it’s “white”…exceptions for French, Australian…)
    – for Asians: yellow on the outside, white on the inside; or dark on the outside, white on the inside
    – you’re fairly good-looking/average or +
    – if they believe you have the same faith, and greet with “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays”
    – if you don’t bring ethnic lunches ie. fish (my one work place, this Asian lady brought in fish for lunch and my boss was rude…she sprayed deodorizer all over the office to mask the smell, while the Asian lady was there eating her lunch in her office! I didn’t have a problem with the smell.) Nobody eats fish there anymore; that company let go of all ethnic staff.
    – and it would help, if you don’ take ethnic holidays or bring ethnic potluck…if no else who works there is ethnic. They’d like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter potlucks to be observed with traditional Christian food…not Chinese food (my bad!). If you pray to God…that’s a bonus!

    There are cities and communities which are more ethnically oriented to various nationalities; these are places where people from the same backgrounds can thrive and progress; be managers, CEOs — working for and serving people of the same/similar nationalities. There are no glass ceilings here. Blacks need to build these types of communities and workplaces…try to create your own jobs, businesses and serve other black people. Don’t wait for people to lose their prejudices…sometimes that’s never going to happen. Move if you have to. People shouldn’t have to grovel for left-overs.

    • Anthony Zarat says:

      This kind of thinking makes the problem worse.

      Last year, I had a female student who suffered significant discrimination because of her orientation (L “male role”, much more seriously discriminated against compared to L “female role”, for some reason). She was from upstate NY, and spoke imperfect English (“aks” instead of “ask”, “acrossed” instead of “across”, “excape” instead of “escape”, and so on).

      Normally, I let this kind of thing go. However, this particular student was extremely gifted, a scientist with the potential to change the world. I told her “don’t give people an excuse to think less of you.” and (with her permission) I harassed her mercilessly about her English. The story has a happy ending (she has a great job at LSU), but of course I cannot prove that her hire was related to her now perfect spoken English. But …

      Until I learned the wistdom of “don’t give people an excuse to think less of you”, I was a Hispanic male. Now, I am a colleague who happens to be Hispanic. Why?

      99% of prejudiced people don’t DECIDE, they DOUBT. When they see that you are a member of an “undesired” group, they ask “is this a typical (whatever)”? This is your opportunity to debunk the stereotype, especially in the first 5 minutes. Is it unfair that minorities have this duty? Of course. So what are you going to to about it? In the end, I wanted the job. I wanted the salary. I wanted the benefits. And learning to speak PERFECT English is a small price to pay for all those advantages.

  7. I wish we could please wait until all of the facts are known before engaging in speculation that points fingers at either Zimmerman or Martin or the police or at society. It is not clear that race had anything to do with Martin’s death any more than race was behind last week’s murder of a white Mississippi college student by black men.

    The ugly truth is that for every Trayvon Martin killed there are far, far more black youth killed by fellow blacks. But those young black victims receive no publicity. No vigils or marches. No Presidential press conferences or Federal prosecutors. No Jesse Jacksons or other exploiters.

    Perhaps THAT is the big “story” to arise from this entire matter.

    • “Perhaps THAT is the big “story” to arise from this entire matter.”

      There evidence shows, as you point out, that our society is completely content with black boys and young men being killed routinely without investigation. Although this is a race problem, it is far more a gender problem. Black women are not suffering nearly the problems and disenfranchisement that black males experience.

      I submit that, were this to be occurring to any other demographic, the government and privately funded organizations would have long ago taken measures to address both the cause and symptoms of the problem(s). But, evidently, black males are not worth the time, expense, and trouble.


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