The sad conclusion of the George Zimmerman trial can serve as a clarion call for action to end the insidious law-enforcement practice known as racial profiling. The practice may be defined as acting on the suspicion that someone is up to no good based on perceived racial identity.
The term “driving while black,” abbreviated DWB, has been used in reference to police who decide to follow or arrest African-American drivers of luxury cars on the suspicion that they might have contraband drugs in the trunk.
When wannabe police officer George Zimmerman decided to follow Trayvon Martin, the boy was not doing anything wrong. He was merely walking while black, and that was all the reason Zimmerman needed to consider him a “suspect” for recent acts of burglary.
The fact that Martin was black — and wearing of a “hoodie” — fit Zimmerman’s stereotype of a criminal, a stereotype that he vocalized in words like “punk” and “hoodlum.” His decision to follow Martin was unjustified because it was made without any effort to determine who the young man was and why he was there.
If Zimmerman had taken the advice of police to stay in his car and wait for them to investigate, the struggle that ended in Martin’s death might have been avoided.
As an African-American male, I have experienced racial profiling many times. I can sympathize with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates reacting to a situation in which a neighbor called the police when observing him trying to get into his own house after losing the door key.
The police did not give Gates the respect he deserved as a renowned academic because all they saw was a black man who seemed to be up to no good. If Gates had received the advice, when he was growing up, that many of us have to give our black male children, to be cool in the face of racial profiling, his situation might have been resolved before it became a national incident.
The profiling of Trayvon Martin can serve as a reminder of the continuing need for a national dialogue on race that raises our awareness of its complex and multidimensional nature. Some Americans still see racism as limited to individual acts of hateful speech and discriminatory behavior, while they deny stereotypical beliefs and related practices such as racial profiling.
Such heightened consciousness might generate support for outlawing racial profiling once and for all. Until that day comes, black parents, unfortunately, will have to continue to advise our children to maintain their cool in the face of police officers and others who might inflict harm upon them for the mere fact of being who they are.
Dictatorship over democracy
Say what you will of Egyptian Mohammed Morsi’s presidency, the fact remains it’s just not a democracy when the military ousts a duly elected official. That’s military dictatorship, which is what Egypt has been suffering under for nearly all the past 60 years.
Remember, the army also ousted President Muhammad Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, which was followed by chaos and attacks on the native Coptic Orthodox people, whose origins date back 2,000 years to the very beginning of Christianity.
Now we’re seeing more chaos. I pray that the good Egyptian people will reach the point where a president is changed through an open, free and orderly election, followed by stability along with freedom and tolerance for all.
Then and only then will they deservedly enjoy the true blessings of democracy.
I have a question concerning the Trayvon Martin murder case.
How can an unarmed youth who is breaking no law be blamed for his own death when he was defending himself from a man stalking him with a gun?
Wrong message on marriage
I am writing in response to the July 14 editorial, “Message of inclusion.” This message, advocating same-sex marriage, that Jim Petro (and Rob Portman) have conveyed to the public is based on the emotional impact of their own families and is a worldly perspective.
Their opinions neither make same-sex marriage morally correct nor mean that it should be legislated. The same-sex marriage editorial uses words such as “opportunity” and “inclusion,” and states that opponents of this message have “misguided assumptions and prejudices.”
However, the truth is not what advocates or adversaries believe on the issue of same-sex marriage, it is what God has to say that counts. God’s message of absolute truth, love, acceptance, equality and protection for all people comes directly from His word and guidance found in the Bible. Specifically, regarding marriage, see Genesis 1:27, 2:21-24.
Invitation to gun violence
After following most of the Zimmerman trial, it seems to me that Zimmerman frightened and annoyed Trayvon Martin by aggressively following him. This resulted in a physical altercation that ended in Zimmerman cowardly killing Martin.
Martin probably started the physical conflict, but would most likely not have done so had he known that Zimmerman was armed.
This leads me to question the wisdom of laws that allow licensed gun owners to conceal weapons in public. If I am in the vicinity of someone carrying a gun, I want to know it. What sort of nonsense is it that requires the weapon to not be visible?
How is that supposed to prevent or minimize gun violence? In the case of Trayvon Martin, just the opposite was true. Perhaps people carrying concealed weapons should be required to wear identification easily visible in all types of light, even in the dark.
That should be a small burden for the convenience of being able to kill someone.
H. James Harwood
State control of drilling
This is in response to the June 21 article, “Justices to hear drilling appeal.” The city of Munroe Falls has ordinances requiring drilling contractors to obtain a city drilling permit, pay an application fee, get a zoning certificate and right-of-way construction permits and post a performance bond. When Beck Energy Corp. began drilling on private property within the Munroe Falls city limits without taking such actions, the city filed a lawsuit, which halted the drilling. Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands of the Summit County Common Pleas Court upheld the city’s rights.
Beck Energy filed an appeal, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources supported Beck’s appeal, saying that Beck had approval from the department to drill and that was all the approval required.
The 9th District Court of Appeals overturned that ruling in February. According to the article, the legislature in 2004 took control of drilling away from local communities and gave sole authority to natural resources department.
That, of course, resulted in the appeals court overturning the common pleas court ruling in February. Now the Ohio State Supreme Court will be hearing the case.
My best guess is that unless the Ohio Supreme Court finds that the legislature’s action in 2004 was in violation of the Ohio Constitution, the court will find for Beck Energy. If, indeed, the court finds for Beck Energy, then hold on to your hats, folks.
The fracking storm is about to begin in Ohio, and there is nothing you can do to keep the frackers away from your backyard.
Do what is good for the country
House Speaker John Boehner fiddled while the Senate-backed, bipartisan immigration bill was amendment-loaded to death by the majority Republican Party of “No.” The Republicans have come full circle, with some exceptions, from the party of President Abraham Lincoln.
They oppose the Dream Act, which would allow children brought to our country by their undocumented immigrant parents, to achieve citizenship by obtaining a college degree or by serving in the military.
They are stripping the immigration bill of any chance for undocumented immigrants to become citizens. Meanwhile, some of these migrant workers are granted temporary visas to work on farms where most Americans refuse to work for the low wages or are unable to do the quality “stoop labor” done by the migrant workers.
If Boehner cannot lead his party to do what is good for our country and those who wish to become citizens, he may as well resign. He is not leading; he is following his tea party constituents and those who dwell in gerrymandered, predominantly white districts.
Celine E. Riedel