Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you’ve heard about the story of Trayvon Martin’s tragic death.
Martin was a 17-year old African-American teenager that was killed by George Zimmerman who was of Caucasian and Latino descent. The incident took place in February 26, 2012, but somehow only got massive media coverage over the past week.
What makes this case interesting is Zimmerman is suspected to have racist motives. After seeing Martin in a hoodie walking around Zimmerman’s neighborhood in Sanford, Florida, the 28-year old phoned 9-1-1 to report a suspicious black male. The recorded phone call revealed that Martin tried to flee after being followed, but Zimmerman chased him and got into scuffle, resulting with the shooting. Martin turned out to be unarmed, carrying only a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona iced tea. Zimmerman was not arrested but the case is still being investigated.
About three weeks after the shooting took place, the story has created a media frenzy which led to celebrities and athletes to speak out about the issue. Among these people are Heat superstars Lebron James and Dwyane Wade.
Per ESPN, Wade and James took pictures of themselves and the team and posted it on Twitter to send a public message:
Wade posted a photo of himself from a previous photo shoot wearing a hooded sweatshirt, otherwise known as a hoodie, to his Twitter and Facebook pages on Friday morning.
A couple hours later, James posted another photo — this one of the Heat team, all wearing hoodies, their heads bowed, their hands stuffed into their pockets. The photo was taken at the team hotel, and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called it “a powerful move.”
Among the hashtags James linked to the photo: “WeWantJustice.”
ESPN also reported that several other NBA players have tried to raise awareness about the incident as well:
Other tributes were going on in NBA arenas on Friday night. Carmelo Anthony tweeted a photo of himself in a gray hoodie, with the words “I am Trayvon Martin!!!!!” over the picture, and his New York Knicks’ teammate Amare Stoudemire – a central Florida native — arrived for his team’s game in Toronto wearing a hooded sweater. Stoudemire also wore a gray hoodie while working out long before tipoff.
Here is my 2 cents about the entire thing:
I think it’s great that NBA players are doing something about issues as such. I am not even going to entertain the idea that what they’re doing is only for publicity purposes. I believe each one of these players and celebrities who took action and made a statement regarding the incident is sincere.
However, my problem is not with their intentions but with the most likely result. All these hashtags and Twitpics make their gestures seem a little too gimmicky to me. I understand the power of social media and its ability to reach out to millions of people, but whatever happened to actually doing something about it? I think the problem with today’s culture is political and social action can be reduced to tweeting a photo of yourself or placing a pink ribbon sticker on your car or purchasing a $30 action kit. Our culture today have become so obsessed with the hottest news, the latest craze, the trending topic, the viral, that we forget about what issue we’re actually dealing with. Just in 2012 alone, we witnessed Tebowmania, Linsanity, and Kony 2012, and it’s only been 3 months! Because we are so distracted by all the hoopla, we tend to forget about the cause itself after some time has passed, just as these trends come and go quickly. People forget that there is more to activism that just clicking and typing in front of your computer or snapping pictures of yourself.
Regarding the actual case, I think efforts made by activists and celebrities to end racism are lacking of substance. Reverend Al Sharpton along with the Martin family and thousands of others gathered on Wednesday night for a rally that calls for justice and the end of racism. Of course, justice is the number one priority for the Martin family. But does anyone really think that a victory for the Martins in court will actually end racial hate crimes in America once and for all? Since the existence of human civilizations, violence, prostitution, and racism have always been present in societies. One win for the black community in court does not change and solve anything. Racism is so deeply rooted in our blood that these efforts are merely feeble attempts in creating social change. Why don’t we start with fixing our education system? Or perhaps implement parenting programs that help them educate their children about these issues. Or maybe control how the media portrays race, especially minorities. What I’m trying to say is it’s going to take more than justice and gimmicks to annihilate racism. It’s going to take time, so we better know how to start fixing the problem now.