The Real Reason Trayvon Martin is Dead 

Chris Hart-Williams Staff Writer

Was Trayvon Martin aware that unlike any other group, African-American males are burdened with facing prejudice that leads to racial profiling? Nothing could have prepared the teenager for the night he would experience after being followed by George Zimmerman. There are several questions that loom over the tragedy of Martin’s death such as: “What if he was white? Was it the hoodie he was wearing that made Zimmerman follow him?”


The reason why Martin was followed goes far beyond what he was wearing; Martin was racially profiled. Racial Profiling is indifferent to what an African-American male wears. Some would argue that African-American males cannot afford to dress certain ways and need to dress appropriately. Just what is appropriate dress? Most of these critics preach against sagging pants, but as that fashion trend fades away it proves that “pull up your pants” will not be the answer to the problem of racial profiling. Martin was not even sagging; he was wearing a black hoodie, khaki skinny jeans and white sneakers. It would not be too overt to say that, most American teens from all backgrounds have those items in their wardrobes. Let’s get real for a moment, what happened that night had nothing to do with what Martin was wearing, not even the hoodie that has become an iconic symbol of the tragedy.

The value of commentary coming from those that preach “pull your pants up” should be challenged. Really is that the solution? If so, we need a PSA very soon. Matter of fact we need someone on every street corner of the country spreading the word as if it were “the gospel”. The message would be: “African-American males as long as you pull your pants up, prejudice will be no more and racial profiling will be of the past.” Unfortunately, it is just not that simple.

No one can say with a straight face that if African-American males dress a certain way they will avoid racial profiling. To support such an idea ignores the historic portrayal of African-American males in our current media, decades of discrimination and inequality and the former master-slave relationship beginning when the first ships of the Triangle trade reached the coasts of the South.

We cannot afford to ignore the remnants of our country’s past, remnants that have led to our current problem where African-American males are racially profiled at high volumes. If “pull up your pants” was the solution it would be an answer to the prayers of many, but it simply is not.

We cannot attribute the Martin tragedy to his hoodie. The hoodie itself did not influence the Zimmerman’s actions; what made him decide to follow Martin goes far deeper than that. If Martin were anyone other than an African-American male in that hoodie we would not have a tragedy. Zimmerman referred to Martin as a “punk” to the 911 operator well before he interacted with him. Zimmerman racially profiled Martin, simple as that. He was surveilling the neighborhood after there had been a stent of robberies and when he saw Martin that night, he saw a criminal. It is sad that an African-American male cannot walk at night without appearing suspicious, no matter if he is wearing a hoodie or a button-up, but it is our country’s reality. It is hard to imagine that things would have been different if Martin were not African-American. Zimmerman’s decision to follow Martin was based on his race and gender.

When critics sneer at the amount of attention this tragedy received they fail see what the incident represents for the daily life of an African-American male, a problem that does not stem from how someone is dressed but rather their skin color.

Those than cannot understand why this tragedy gained so much attention and why it continues to matter to people, need to understand that this tragedy put a spotlight on a problem this nation has with racial profiling. This tragedy exemplifies the worst that can happen in a country that racially profiles. Usually racial profiling does not end with a teenager shot down in his neighborhood but it is still a problem that should not be ignored.

We continue to reside in a society where African-American males often get the short end of the stick. It is far past the time where we need to stop judging people based on the color of their skin and resist attributing problems of African-American males to what one wears. We need to look deeper so that we can come to a day where racial profiling is no longer a problem. Unlike gains made in the past related to race relations through legislation, the change we need now is within the attitudes of us.