The George Zimmerman trial has been like a train wreck to me this week. I haven't wanted to look but I haven't been able to keep my eyes off it. I am an historian. I have spent a great deal of my adult life studying the events and mores of our society. The Zimmerman trial is a great indication of how far we have come in the United States in the area of race relationships -- how far we have come in the wrong direction.
The Zimmerman trial is not about a man's innocence or guilt. It isn't. I don't care what you say, you will never convince me of that.
It is about a white man killing a black teenager -- but it isn't about guilt or innocence. It is about black and white. Pure and simple. Cut and dried.
If it had been white on white or black on black or green with purple polka dots on green with purple polka dots, none of us would have ever heard of what happened in Florida that night. We wouldn't have.
Immediately after the incident, local law enforcement authorities investigated and found that, based on Florida law, no crime had been committed. How, you might ask, can a young man be killed by another man's weapon and there not be a crime committed? Simple. The authorities determined that George Zimmerman had been attacked by Trayvon Martin and was within his legal rights, under the state's "stand your ground" law, to protect himself with lethal force.
If we hadn't been talking about a white man -- or Hispanic, as Zimmerman claims his ethnicity to be -- killing a black person, no one would have questioned that finding. Indeed, there have been several similar situations recently when the ethnicities were reversed and none of us know the names of the participants.
But Trayvon Martin was a young black man and the media and Al Sharpton were not going to let the nation ignore the incident in question. Now a man is on trial for his life.
I am not saying whether he should be or shouldn't be. I know that the media firestorm that followed George Zimmerman's indictment was not fair and balanced. I know that George Zimmerman has been hung out to dry by the judicial system that is supposed to be blind.
The judge, by what she allowed and didn't allow into testimony, has done all in her power to influence the decision of the jury of six women who will decide Zimmerman's fate. In fact, she reversed her own decision after the prosecution had a hard time proving the charges they had levied beyond a reasonable doubt and added the possibility of finding Zimmerman guilty of a lesser charge.
The media has been fanning the flames of this trial for months and with every burst they have inflamed more and more emotions to the point that now, all over this nation, people are priming themselves to riot if the verdict is not just -- in their opinion.
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking what so many are saying. Huckaby is white so he believes George Zimmerman had the right to kill Trayvon Martin. Not so. Not by a long shot. In fact, I am not sure what I believe about the case. Except this. I am certain that I am tired of everything that happens in this nation causing division along racial lines.
Too many black folks in this country support the president, for instance, because he is black. And too many people in this country oppose the president because he is black. Do you understand? But for so many people in this country, that is the primary motivation for way too many of our opinions.
This is supposed to be the United States of America -- but it isn't. We are divided -- as divided as we have ever been. It is black versus white, rich versus poor, Republican versus Democrat, straight versus gay. We cannot continue this way. We just can't.
I am not sure when the jury might reach a verdict in the Zimmerman case. After watching so much of the trial I can't imagine how anyone can help but have reasonable doubt about what happened that February night.
I know this, however. Whatever happens needs to happen because of what happened in Florida when weighed against the laws of that state, and when the verdict is in, the verdict needs to be respected and we as a nation need to move on.
One more thing. We need leadership in this nation that will begin to steer us, once again, toward unity. We've had more than enough divisiveness.
Can I get a witness?
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.