Trayvon Martin was a black teenager who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a white man (Jewish father, Peruvian mother) in Florida on the 26th of February. Martin, who was unarmed, had been walking to his father’s girlfriend’s home from a convenience store when Zimmerman called 911 and followed Martin after witnessing what he described as “suspicious” behaviour. Soon afterward, he fatally shot Martin during an altercation between the two. Zimmerman had called 911 over forty times in the previous 12 months. Martin, it transpired, was carrying nothing on him other than a bag of Skittles and a bottle of Ice Tea. Zimmerman told police he shot in self-defence (legal in Florida, even if your attacker is an unarmed seventeen year-old) and was not arrested. The public backlash has been immense.
Here is some of the rhetoric swirling around the blogosphere regarding an incident which has brought home the dangers of being black in a largely self-segregated society ruled by a culture of racial fear. And really, does anyone know a seventeen year-old who doesn’t own a hoodie?