A new Ipsos/Reuters poll offers what looks to be an unfortunate preview of what lies ahead for the trial of George Zimmerman – particularly as it relates to how the population will potentially react.
Perhaps it’s not surprising to see that the attitudes towards Trayvon Martin’s fatal shooting are heavily divided along racial lines, but it’s not any less disheartening. The poll finds that 91 percent of Blacks believe Trayvon was killed unjustly. Yet, only 35 percent of whites feel that way. The online poll also revealed that 59 percent of Hispanics believed Martin was wrongly shot by Zimmerman.
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On the report, Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson said, “This incident is one of the clearest splits we’ve seen between whites and Blacks.” You don’t say, Chris. You don’t say.
As comforting as it’s been to see the mainstream media respond to social media’s call for greater attention to the death of an unarmed Black teenager at the hands of a glorified vigilante, not every onlooker has reacted with empathy towards the situation.
New York Times columnists Charles M. Blow, a staunch advocate for Trayvon in print and on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, recently shared a racist voicemail he received on Twitter. Paid for his opinion, Blow’s commentary has been understandably passionate, which sadly welcomes an equally more fervent (albeit stupid) reply. But even the mildest of sentiments conveyed about Trayvon Martin are garnering mean spirited kickbacks.
In “I AM: A Young Black Man,” videographer Luis Antonio Thompson gathered several hood-donning Black youth to speak on racial prejudices that undoubtedly played into Zimmerman targeting Trayvon the night he died. Tonally, it was a highly subtle retort to the thug caricature Travyon and other Black men are subjected to over a piece of clothing. Even that, though, got pegged as “liberal race baiting propaganda” on a conservative blog.
Surprise, surprise: The poll also finds biases on the matter straddle along political lines as well. How hard do we have to fall before we see how detrimental the current news culture is to our collective sensibilities? It seems like much longer than I’d like.
The same seems so for the racial biases to blame for the great disparity in viewpoints.
Terry Keleher, Director of the Racial Justice Leadership Action Network at the Applied Research Center, which publishes the site Colorlines, said of the findings: “What’s most troubling about this is that the views of most whites seem to align closely with those of the Florida law enforcement establishment, which, by its actions and inaction, has been mostly sympathetic to the perspective and plight of a light-skinned armed and aggressive assailant than an unarmed and murdered black youth.”
Ideally, the facts will be presented in the trial, subsequently challenging whatever attitudes and the political persuasions that mold them white skeptics seem to have, and ultimately leading to some sort of meaningful dialogue. Some white people might even see the light…and seriously consider just how much a hue can lead to something horrific!
Unfortunately, based on that poll and what I’m starting to see with each passing day, such a scenario feels about as likely as a love fest on Basketball Wives. As time ever so consistently shows, when we fail to learn from one’s mistake, it’s only a matter of time before someone else repeats it.
Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer currently based in Los Angeles. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick