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How Zimmerman Has Split America Right Down the Middle

By Ashia Gallo, Editorial Intern

I was always attached to the Trayvon Martin case, from the moment I saw its details. However, the outrage from myself and many others was not fully reached until that ‘Not Guilty’ verdict came in.

The first place I took to was social media. At first, everyone had similar thoughts: Shock. Disbelief. Confusion. Then, I started to notice the color of the avatars as the comments started rolling in…

“This case isn’t about race, and anyone who thinks it is is an idiot.”

“Trying really hard not to be pissed at white ppl right now, but this is some bulls***”

“Trayvon attacked him. He got shot for it. Justice was served. Stop whining.”

“Blacks kill blacks everyday so the fact that y’all are mad about ONE person outside the black community getting away with it is stupid.”

“A system can’t fail those it was never built to protect.”

Along with the controversial statuses came even more controversial comments. These replies became attacks. These attacks became online fights. People who had ‘liked’ each others’ photos, quotes and relationship statuses mere hours before were de-friended in minutes.

Then the hate speech began. Racial slurs from all directions were thrown. Comparisons of Trayvon’s life to that of an animal, as well as jokes (in bad taste) describing Zimmerman as the “the white man’s OJ”, suggesting that “everyone had to have their chance to get off, now we’re equal.”

It is times like this when I can’t remember how I felt in 2008 after Obama’s victory had been announced. I cannot remember how it felt when a redneck, country boy from my high school won the Black Heritage Club’s talent show. And I cannot remember how I ever truly called some of these people real life friends (from all points of the color spectrum…) as they spewed their hateful thoughts across my newsfeed.

I hear the words “post racial” and it makes my skin crawl. Why?….Because we’re not. Yes, we’re advanced. Yes, we can have open and honest conversations about social issues that our grandparents could not.

But, get us all riled up, and its like the 1960s! There is a racial rift in America now, and whenever these controversial matters involving race come about. My concern is that we are not as far along as we give ourselves credit for. When anger is involved, we still do not strive to understand one another’s views, or show empathy for situations which we may not be able to relate to.

No matter what you believe about George Zimmerman or gun laws or the justice system, a boy died. No matter what your perception is about Trayvon Martin, he was a 17-year-old boy who is no longer alive. His mother and father are without a son. And he is without a future.

No matter if you are black, white, brown, yellow, orange or polka dot, this is a tragedy. No matter how you put it. And if you’re too blind in your Facebook/Twitter wars to see that, then I think you’ve missed the entire point.

For more on what we can do as a nation to heal this rift, check out this USA Today article.


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