US Politics

The Trayvon Martin Case: When Tragedies Become Politicized…

The story of the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has evolved into a nation-wide discussion. Most readers are probably familiar with the series of events: on February 26 Trayvon Martin is found dead in Stanford, Florida, killed by a 28 year old neighborhood watch captain named George Zimmerman. The police believed Zimmerman’s story, that he had shot the teenager in self defense, without much investigation. Over the following days the parents of Trayvon call for Zimmerman’s arrest but the police refuse. The situation escalates and heavy criticism is laid on Sanford Police Chief Billy Lee for mishandling the case, and he is eventually forced to temporally step down. Meanwhile Zimmerman still hasn’t been charged (partly  due to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law), and the campaign for his arrest has grown across the country. Over 900,000 people have signed an online petition for his arrest and events called “Million Hoodie Marches” made thousands take to the streets.

New York State Senator Eric Adams wears a hoodie to show solidarity for the death of Trayvon Martin

Initially the media ignored Trayvon’s murder, but as soon as outrage started to build, coverage started full force and it made the issue even stickier. Since Zimmerman was injured in the conflict, cable news shows debated ad infinitum whether he acted in self defense or not. Was he racist, or did he want to play the hero? Geraldo Rivera even went as far as to blame the teenager’s hoodie for putting him in harm’s way (inadvertently causing a spike in the hoodie’s popularity). But that’s not all. Zimmerman has received death threats and has gone in to hiding. As a response the New Black Panthers have put out a $10,000 bounty for Zimmerman’s “capture.” Most recently film director Spike Lee tweeted, incorrectly, Zimmerman’s address, making a neighborhood woman a target for those angry at the police’s inaction.

But for the most part this discussion was a social issue, and it only crossed over into the political world when President Obama was questioned about it at an unrelated event. When listening to Obama’s response it’s clear that he’s on tenterhooks, trying to balance an emotional response without diffintively weighing into the issue. But his mere mentioning of Trayvon’s’s death opened a can of political worms that are doomed to wriggle across the political sphere until some sense of closure is obtained.

Read more after the jump.

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Debate Coverage

Dems/Repubs Debate LIVE BLOG: Affirmative Action

*the debate will be less complex than pictured, barely...

The debate has begun! It’s already heating up and arguments are coming fast and fierce. There have already been some unexpected moves. The Dems came out not fully supporting affirmative action, instead stating that everyone wants to see an end of the policy. The question, however, is when. Stay tuned for live updates to this article as the debate unfolds!

  • 8:26 The Republicans are hung up on the prosecution of the Irish Catholics vs African Americans.
  • 8:30 first audience question. Are legacy policies more harmful than affirmative action?
  • 8:33 Dems are busting out studies, talking about how the exposure to people of race in professional and academic settings leads to less discrimination. Repubs rebuttal by saying that’s buying into the logic of racism. Both get snaps from the audience.
  • 8:37 Question from the audience: Is affirmative action harming the chances of other minorities professionally and in academia?
  • 8:40 More prosecution against the Irish! Perhaps the Repubs would have better luck with this line of argument if we were still in the 1850s.
  • 8:43 Question from the audience: What about Native Americans on reservations.
  • 8:45 We have quite the diverse panel: the debaters from the Dems come from Brazil and Alaska, and the Repubs have an Irishman.
  • 8:48 Republicans argue that “one more program” will not solve racism, we can’t let race be a factor. Dems argue that race does affect one’s opportunities in life.
  • 8:52 Repubs argue that we should strive for a meritocracy, and that affirmative action helps people at the cost of promoting a racist mindset.
  • 8:58 Dems argue that there is still measurable racism in this country. The Repubs claim that employers assume that the reason black people with the same resumes as white people are inferior is because “they must have gotten affirmative action”. Audience gasps.
  • 9:00 Audience member challenges the assumption that affluent African Americans don’t face racism. Repubs argue that it doesn’t mean that affirmative action will solve this, saying that “affirmative action doesn’t stop employers from being racist”.
  • 9:08 Repubs argue that affirmative action is a way for polticians to say that they have done something to end racism and then they do no more. Dems argue “who says that?”
  • 9:10 Question from the audience: does affirmative action creates shame amongst minorities when it comes to their relationship to white peers? Dems argue that there are plenty of boosts for white students and professionals, affirmative action is just an equalizer.
  • 9:14 Lots of talk about nigerian ambassadors, someone’s ears are burning! Our Irish friend talks about discrimination in England. Meanwhile, Dems accuse republicans of living in a fantasy world where everyone is equal. It’s really heating up! “Your solution is do nothing, work harder!”
  • 9:19 This is the part of the debate where both sides start to repeat themselves. There are a few gems though. For example, the Repubs just claimed that the dems suggest they are “supporting Jim Crow”.
  • 9:21 Last question: Brazil has a spectrum between white and black, how does affirmative action deal with mixed race children?
  • 9:22 Lots of shouting out the window. What’s going on outside the debate hall? Anyways, the debate has turned into an analysis of various metaphors: weights, scales, etc.

Debates over folks. Thanks to all who cam and the Dems and Repubs for participating. Before the end of the week we will have a video up thanks to our partnership with CTV.