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Disparities In Tragedies

The shooting that took place in Aurora, Colorado was the epitome of our definition of wickedness.  James Holmes took a Smith & Wesson AR-15 assault rifle, a Remington 12 gauge shotgun, and .40 caliber Glock pistol into a movie theater showing the latest Batman flick, tossed a smoke grenade into the unsuspecting audience watching the film, and opened fire.  Twelve people were killed, ten of them declared dead at the scene while two died in hospital.  Thirty people are still receiving medical care in area hospitals.  As of this writing eleven people remain in critical condition.

The recognition that something horrible had happened was instant.  The outpouring of sympathy and compassion was immediate.  No one is standing in line to defend James Holmes.  Everyone understands his actions were criminal.  Everyone understands the people in the theater minding their own business were victims.  There is no confusion about the legality of what he did.  The only questions regarding this perpetrator’s future is how long will he be incarcerated and/or how many death sentences he will receive.

The hospitals taking care of victims without medical insurance or with inadequate healthcare coverage are announcing that they will waive some if not all of the medical cost.  A great public relations move and a sign of community in an era where any signs of socialism is considered anti American.  A website asking people for donations to help cover the cost of caring for the victims has already collected more than half a million dollars.  There is a lot of support for the people who had to suffer through the horror of that night.

Compare that to the general public’s reaction to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida by George Zimmerman.  When the police in Sanford got the call that there was a shooting, like the police in Aurora they swarmed onto the scene.  But unlike the police in Aurora, the police in Sanford decided that they didn’t have enough evidence that a crime had occurred even though a black teenager lay dead on the ground with a hole in his chest and the shooter was standing right there with a smoking gun in his hand.  Mr. Zimmerman was allowed to go free with his gun in his hand and the Sanford police closed their investigation in a matter of hours.

The reaction by the public to the shooting in Sanford fell along racial lines.  Black people were outraged that Trayvon’s murder was quickly swept under the rug leaving an impression that resembled a bowling ball.  So many white people reacted to black people demanding further investigation.  Many saw Trayvon as nothing more than a black teenager out to make trouble.  Trayvon’s background was instantly investigated.  And when he had no criminal record or even a record of a misdemeanor, his school records were combed for anything that would justify his murder.  Nobody in the theater in Aurora had to suffer such an indignity.

When President Barack Obama made a comment that if he had a son he would look like Trayvon, the President’s opponents jumped on the statement with indignation.  The President was trying to inject race into an issue that already had race written all over it.  Compare that to the reaction to the President’s words about the shooting in Aurora.  His words were appreciated and recognized as an offer of support to all the victims.

After the murder of Trayvon, the website that was created to ask for donations that garnered the public’s attention was the one that was intended to help the murderer, George Zimmerman.  Mr. Zimmerman collected so much money that he felt compelled to lie to the court about his finances in order to avoid paying a huge bond.  Does anybody care to guess what would be the public’s reaction if somebody put together a website asking for donations to help cover the cost of defending James Holmes?  It would be no surprise if such a site was started it would struggle to reach a hundred dollars.  But then again, Zimmerman only killed a black teenager while James Holmes killed white people.

But what was really telling was that after the murder of Trayvon a lot of people applauded George Zimmerman for his crime and attacked the family Trayvon.  When Trayvon’s mother made a public announcement about Mother’s Day and how she would be spending that occasion in memory of her son people accused her of being a gold digger trying to profit off of her son’s death.  Within days of the crime, people in the white community were saying that they were tired of hearing about Trayvon’s murder and suggested that we move on.  It is a sure fire bet that a year from now we will have a memorial to the Aurora victims that will receive national attention.  And people will continue to roll their eyes at the name Trayvon.

People will try to defend these disparities in two very similar yet very different tragedies.  They’ll say Holmes planned to kill innocent people while Zimmerman was only trying to defend himself when he got out of his car with his nine millimeter and gave chase to the unarmed black teenager walking away from him.  They’ll say that there were innocent victims in Aurora where Trayvon was black, hooded, and ripe for automatic suspicion of being up to no good.  But there is nothing that could justify the disparity in reactions between these two acts of murder.  Not even America’s inherent penchant for racism against black people.

Friday, July 27, 2012 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, Thoughts |

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