Professor Vilna Bashi Treilter Q&A on Trayvon Martin’s Case
For the past two months, George Zimmerman has been the subject of national discussion for his involvement in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman, 28, was on a neighborhood watch when he shot Martin, an unarmed African-American 17-year-old. Angela B. Corey, the state attorney in Florida, has charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. Martin’s parents and leaders in the African-American community were outrage when a judge granted Zimmerman’s release on $150,000 bail. I talked with Vilna Bashi Treilter, a professor of Black and Hispanic Studies at Baruch College and an expert in race issues.
Whose fault is it, George Zimmerman or “Stand Your Ground” law?
The law did it kill anyone; Zimmerman did…the law says if someone feels threated. What’s the definition of “ground” and where is Trayvon Martin’s ground?
Why do you think African-Americans are being target by the police?
Well, there are two books that have recently come out that talk about the history of colonialization of African American in practically men. One is Maslow Alexander “The New Jim Crow”, and the other is Criminalizing Blackness. They both would teach us that Criminalization is not new. However, what’s happen is that of White crimes against African American are on the rise because the war on drugs which has made it so that people like Gant Marley are now considered criminals for possessing marijuana not laws, not applied evenly throughout our nation. Certain people will not be chase down for possession of that drug and certainly not will guns drawn and at risk of losing their life. But, so violent crimes, burglary and such are have gone way down in our nation history. But incarnation rates has gone sky high and there is a lot of new research that shows that equal applications of these laws certainly indicates that race is the reason why African American are targeted.
Should ‘Stand Your Ground’ law be eliminated?
I think it should. I don’t understand how it’s going to be upheld. Everyone can feel under a threat, I’m sure that Trayvon Martin felt under threat. He’s just not just being walking around with arms in order to enforce that law against others. I don’t understand how it can stand but I wouldn’t be surprise because again unequal application of law is part of our nation history
In recent news, under Trayvon Martin case, there will not be grand jury?
I am very concerned that it seems that there’s not enough evidence to have a grand jury hearing on the case. Again, there is a young man dead for having gone to the store during an intermission of basketball watching and I know that the corpse of the young man was tested for drugs. Where Mr. Zimmerman was not tested, he has been walking free for the last month and half. It seems to me that there are 911 calls, people heard him screaming. I understand the judgment but I hope justice is done at some point.
Do you think racism will end?
Do I think racism will end? I’m hopeful that will at some point but once people make categories that are use to oppress other people. I think it is in ordinary difficult to unmake them. I don’t know how we would do that racism as been around in the United States of American since 1500’s—lets says— and I don’t see it ending tomorrow.
Reaction from New Yorkers:
Vermelle VanDuyne, Teacher
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Tilsa Pattee, Mother of two
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Hector W. Soto, Professor at Hostos Community College
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