“Pop quiz: if Trayvon Martin were 25, would you care to know his name?
If he had just been released from prison two weeks earlier, would you care that he was dead?
Why do you care so much about what happened to this one particular young man?
I ask because so much of the outrage surrounding Martin’s shooting has to do with his age. He was 17, shot on the way home from buying a bag of Skittles and an iced tea from a corner store. The imagery is striking — this young, skinny kid, far away from home, shot dead by a vigilante while returning from buying candy for his little brother. It tugs the heart strings, and it gets attention from even those “tired of talking about race.” A boy died, and there appears to be ample reason to believe that he got shot for, literally, trying to mind his own business. It’s the rare case where race is an unavoidable variable, probably the catalyst for everything bad that happened, and there is no polarizing effect. That’s what happens when kids get shot. No one wants to be the one to condone a child being stalked like prey. It’s an easy case to get behind.
But if our victim wasn’t so pristine, not a babe in the woods, are we having this discussion?