Unlike President Obama and New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow, I could not have been Trayvon Martin; not now, not 35 years ago.
Nor could I have been his mother. The same is true for the five white women and one Hispanic woman who made up the jury in the George Zimmerman case.
Justice is blind.
Eighteen years ago, I sat with my co-workers in front of a TV waiting for the OJ Simpson verdict. The room lit up with cheers of joy when non-guilty verdict was read. I was stunned and slunk away, catching shock in the eyes of the one other white person in the room. First was the verdict; then the high-fives among my co-workers.
That verdict was handed down by a jury of nine blacks, two whites, and one Hispanic.
Justice is blind.
The defense lawyers for George Zimmerman told a story of a black teenage boy in a hooded sweatshirt. Strange, how frightening that sounds. This teenager then attacked Mr. Zimmerman who had bruises on his body to show for it. Mr. Zimmerman was justified in defending himself.
Those speaking on the other side told the story of a black teenage boy walking home when an unknown man began to pursue him. Strange, how frightening that sounds. This teenager then defended himself with his fists. Mr. Martin was an innocent, attacked by a vigilante who had been told by a police dispatcher not to pursue the teenager.
The jury was instructed that they needed to determine guilt without a reasonable doubt. There were no witnesses and the victim was dead and could not tell his story. Based on the jury's understanding of the facts and arguments laid out by the prosecution and defense, they determined that Mr. Zimmerman was not guilty. Justice was properly carried out.
Question is what would have happened had it been a black man who shot a half white, half Hispanic teenage boy, without witnesses, in a neighborhood in Florida or Illinois or Colorado? Would the police have questioned him for 5 hours, accepting his story of self-defense without subjecting him to a medical examination, and then released him without arrest?
As the mother of a 6 ft. teenage boy who frequently walks home from friends at night in a hooded sweatshirt, I am glad I live in a neighborhood where I don't think gun carrying residents stalk suspicious people. Though I don't really know that to be true. At the very least, and it makes me sad to write this, I take comfort in the fact that my son doesn't have to be afraid of "walking while black."