If my white 14-year-old son Luke had walked out that same night, in that same neighborhood, just to get a snack, he would have come back to his dad unharmed -- and would still be with me and Joy today. Everyone, being honest with ourselves, knows that is true. But when black 17-year-old Trayvon Martin went out that night, just to get a snack, he ended up dead -- and is no longer with his dad and mom. Try to imagine how that feels, as his parents.
It was a political, legal, and moral mistake to not put race at the center of this trial because it was at the center from the beginning of this terrible case. Many are now saying, "There was a trial; the results must be accepted." How well the case against George Zimmerman was prosecuted, how fair the tactics of the defense were, the size and selection of the jury, how narrowly their instructions were given -- all will be the subject of legal discussions for a very long time.
But while the legal verdicts of this trial must be accepted, the larger social meaning of court cases and verdicts must be dealt with, especially as they impact the moral quality of our society.
This is not just about verdicts but also about values.
And the impact of race in and on this case, this trial, and the response to it around the country must now all be centrally addressed.
There is no doubt that this whole tragedy began with the racial profiling of Trayvon Martin. In George Zimmerman's comments, rationales, and actions, the identity of Trayvon as a young black man was absolutely central. Both sides in the courtroom admitted that.
And when the defense put up as a witness a white woman who had been robbed by black men as central to why Zimmerman picked out Trayvon Martin to follow and stalk -- it really said it all. Was she robbed by Trayvon Martin? No. So why should he be suspect because of another black robber? That is racial profiling. Period.
As the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his most famous "I Have a Dream" speech, whose 50th anniversary is coming up this August 24th:
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
King's dream failed on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Fla., when George Zimmerman decided to follow Trayvon Martin because of the color of his skin. This led to a confrontation in which a child was killed by an adult who got away with it, because of the way Florida laws were written and interpreted.