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The Uncovered Tragedy of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Misfortune


I believe the multi tragedies of the Martin-Zimmerman case could have been avoided had there been better and more open communication.

A man speaks during a demonstration at Union Square in New York on July 14, 2013. Protests were held one day after a US jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, in a racially charged trial that transfixed the country. The trial aroused strong passions among those who believed that Zimmerman -- a volunteer neighborhood watchman whose father is white and whose mother is Peruvian -- racially profiled and stalked Martin, and those convinced he acted in self-defense. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

The chief tragedy is the loss of life. Any life from conception to the last heart beat is precious. Second is the reality George Zimmerman will have to live with the fact that he took a life. Soldiers and police have found living with that burden incredibly difficult even in the most cut and dry situation of self defense.

We can point at the media doctoring of the 911 call tape to bring a racial component where both Trayvon Martin's family and their lawyers say none exist. The creation of the term White Hispanic for the same reason. Individuals and groups that attack innocents in Martin’s name or gin up racial unrest for the sake of donations all represent lesser tragedies in this reality.

My question is one that did not make the news or the sound bites from the court case. Perhaps the tragedy  -- second only to the suffering of the two families -- is the dynamic that prevented these two men from communicating on that stormy night.

Zimmerman should have the right to civilly challenge someone he considered suspicious in his duty as a neighborhood watch patrol, in an area that had been victimized by crime. Martin had the right to walk where he wanted to within the law.

Zimmerman could have said something like. “Excuse me sir, I am with the neighborhood watch, we have had several break-ins these last few months so we are checking everyone that is around the houses late at night.” Martin could have responded, “I am just trying to get out of the rain on my way to my friend's house.”

We cannot know what was said but we do know the result, and civil conversations rarely end with fights that lead to shootings.

I generally write business and marketing columns and I found this article that had good news in an article in the Savannah Morning News under the headline Communication, education keys to improving race relations: A recent poll suggests some optimism in equal hiring practices. The issue I raised is supported in the first few lines:

The black man says white people won't give black people anything and that blacks need to get it for themselves. The white man feels he has been discriminated against in his business because of quotas and buying practices. In a group with people of the same skin tone, both men talk openly about these issues.

But in the last line of the first paragraph is the problem.

Put them in a group with lighter and darker faces, these topics don't come up. Or the issues are brushed behind the veil of polite conversation.

All human interaction is based on communication. I believe the multi tragedies of the Martin-Zimmerman case could have been avoided had there been better and more open communication.

We can forget politicians, music moguls and so called community leaders; communication always starts one to one. Choose to be civil and you might just find peaceful…even productive outcomes.

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