Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 19, 2013

Examine our biases to prevent tragedy

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — The George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin trial is over. A verdict has been reached. Under current Florida law, and the fact that the prosecution failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury reached the only conclusion that that could have — not guilty.

Do I agree with the verdict? Absolutely not. The only emotion I felt was a deep, inconsolable sadness at their decision. Do I believe that the jury should be vilified because of this? No. Do I believe that Zimmerman is an overt racist and should be persecuted for what he did? No. He is a human being, just as the jury members are human and bring their life experiences and biases to this case. This is the underlying matter that needs to be discussed here. That is, the ill-perceived concept of the “other,” which is a person, or a group of people outside the bounds of what is normal according to you, or societal pressures — people who do not look like you, do not dress like you, people who have different political views, are members of a different religion, or who do not worship the same God you do.

We are all guilty of this unconscious reaction to the “other,” including me. I will not identify which group, but I am part of a group that is seen as the “other,” someone to be feared, hated, the object of unreasonable suspicion, and in some instances, murdered for simply being born who they are. I have been a target of such ill-perceived bias, but in a different light, there have been many rainy nights that I have walked the streets in a hoodie while taking my dogs out. I have never been stopped, questioned or detained — not once. Why? White privilege.

Until we all examine the bias inside ourselves toward Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Muslims etc., anything “other” than white, the tragedy of another person being shot because of what they look like is doomed to be repeated. This is what makes me so sad.

Anthony Harvey