It cannot be denied that attorneys, the judge, and jury were all quite aware of race in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case. However, the question arises; did race play a role in the outcome of the case. Zimmerman was found to be not guilty; would he have been found guilty if he had been black? Would Zimmerman have been found guilty if Martin was white?
It is impossible to know for certain what the outcome of the trial would have been if race and racism did not exist. However, there is reason to believe that the outcome would have been the same. It is true that Trayvon Martin was black. It is true that Martin was unarmed. It is true that Zimmerman shot and killed Martin.
However, it must be remembered that Zimmerman was part of the neighborhood watch; he carried a gun with him, and clearly had the mentality to kill another human being in self-defense if necessary. Zimmerman was harmed in the altercation between himself and Martin, and what Zimmerman did was clearly in self-defense. Would Zimmerman have shot a white or Hispanic male who attacked him? It cannot be known for certain; however, there is little reason to believe he would not have. When a person is attacked, it is reasonable to expect that person to act in self-defense. If a person has a weapon while fighting; it should be little surprise if the weapon is used regardless of the respective races of the attacker and defender.
However, the jury also comes into question as they are the other major factor in the case. Was their decision swayed by Zimmerman’s and Martin’s respective races? In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, one member of the jury indicated that race did not play a role in the jury’s decision. Of course, the jury member could not be expected to admit to racism even if it was a factor; however, there is reason to believe that the jurist was telling the truth. Prior to the trial, some jury members suspected Zimmerman of being guilty; however, they changed their minds later on. If racism played a role, then those jury members would not have changed their decision; clearly the change resulted from testimony and evidence.
Furthermore, it should be expected that race would play an especially small role in the jury’s decision in this trial. The jury was aware of the racial controversy surrounding the killing to begin with and were fully aware of the misery that could arise if it was found that racism played a role in the outcome of the case. For that reason, if racism did play a role at all, it would be expected that the jury would find Zimmerman guilty to help avoid racial criticism. The publicity surrounding the case would ensure that any significant role of racism in the trial would soon surface, and the jury would certainly want to avoid such an outcome. That they found Zimmerman innocent despite the danger that such a decision could bring shows that the jury reached their decision of Zimmerman’s innocence independent of race.
Also, again, the jury had to remember that Zimmerman was acting in self- defense. It should be little surprise that a jury in such a situation would not consider killing a person in self-defense murder. Rather, the only reason why people have claimed the killing to be a murder seems to be due to race. If the altercation had been between two white men or two black men, it seems very likely that the case would have received little publicity and would have had the same outcome. It is important for people to be allowed to defend themselves in America, and it seems doubtful that race played a role in the jury’s final decision of Zimmerman’s innocence.