Selective Outrage in Trayvon Martin Shooting Death


Greg Howard, a Chicago teen, was killed by a gunman who opened fire in the vestibule of an apartment building.

Monae Turnage, a Baltimore teen, was shot to death in an alley and left hidden under a pile of trash.

Ervin Jefferson, an Atlanta teen, was shot and killed by private security guards.

I find it interesting that not one of these killings has generated anywhere near as much news coverage, fomented nearly as much public outrage as the slaying of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

Indeed, Howard, Turnage and Jefferson were black and unarmed, just like Trayvon. They were shot and killed in the last month, like Trayvon. They leave behind grieving family and friends, like Trayvon.

But President Obama hasn’t felt compelled, so far,  to lament the “tragic” deaths of Howard, Turnage and Jefferson. The U.S. Department of Justice hasn’t opened up an investigation into their slayings. And protest marches in memory of Howard, Turnage and Jefferson have not been held as yet in cities throughout the country.

So why is Trayvon’s shooting death being treated differently than the shooting deaths of the other three black teens?

Because Trayvon’s shooter,George Zimmerman, is un-black, whereas the shooters who took the lives of Howard, Turnage and Jefferson were black.

The implication of that double standard, that selective outrage by the president, the media and the black community, is that the violent death of a black youth is less tragic, less offensive if it comes at the hands of a black killer than if it comes at the hands of a white, brown or yellow.

But, as the poet John Donne famously wrote, “Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind.”

Indeed, it should not matter the race of a shooting victim. It should not matter the complexion of his or her killer. The deaths of innocents diminish us all because we are all part of the human family; we were all formed in our mothers’ wombs by our Creator.

So send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls not only for Trayvon – God rest his soul –  but also for Greg, Monae, Ervin and all this country’s teen shooting victims gone to soon.

This entry was published on March 27, 2012 at 10:50 AM. It’s filed under Crime and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Selective Outrage in Trayvon Martin Shooting Death

  1. What balderdash. Howard was killed by gang-bangers; cops still looking for them. Turnage was killed by young teens with a gun, now facing involuntary manslaughter charges. Jefferson was killed just a few days ago, on Saturday – and the guards already are facing charges of impersonating police officers while the investigation into the death continues.

    Martin, on the other hand, was shot by a civilian who, at a minimum, followed and confronted the kid – and was not charge at all by a police department that basically blew off any investigation.

    Even if Martin threw the first punch, the fact that Zimmerman stalked him in a way that prompted a confrontation would be grounds for mansluaghter charges in most states.

    • You miss the point Jake. Trayvon’s shooting death is no more, or less, tragic and outrageous than the shooting deaths of Howard, Turnage and Jefferson. The reason the slayings of Howard, Turnage and Jefferson haven’t made national news is because their shooters were black. And black-on-black violent crime is so prevalent in our society, hardly anyone pays attention, except the families and friends of black-on-black crime victims.

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