Psychology of Historical/Social Perception….

I find it somewhat interesting that many of the distressful posts about the Zimmerman/Martin incident are from white folks. Yes, these sorts of tragedies occur everyday. If anything, this trial should make us “uncomfortable” that in the 21st Century, we still have a psychology of historical and social perception that divides us more than any government or media outlet could ever do. 

I am reminded of my time as a public safety communications officer for a local college/university here in Florida. On occasion, I would get complaint calls from various neighbors in the area about “suspicious people” in the adjacent area. After obtaining a general description of the individual(s) of concern (many times matching the physical aspects of college/university students in general), my next question was usually, “Well, what are they doing that is suspicious?” The responses generally resolved around generalized assumptions that college students walking around a given area were automatically and obviously guilty of some general crime. And yes, the responding law enforcement units would 9/10 advise me, after engaging in an investigation, of an unfounded report (nothing suspicious from a legal standpoint in the area). 

I also see a lot of negativity directed toward the jurors, the judge, and/or the prosecution/defense teams. In my opinion, they went with what they had from a circumstantial evidence standpoint, and a questionable (if not sloppy) investigative procedure. In regards to the jurors, I will admit that I had followed the case casually, but from my opinion, their verdict highlighted a basic foundation of our criminal justice/legal system: every one of those ladies could have said, “we THINK/FEEL that he did it, but if the evidence doesn’t support that view, we have no choice but to acquit him.” This core viewpoint has the capacity to damn you, and/or to save you — as it has damned and/or saved others throughout judicial history.

As I drove past the numerous exits for Sanford on I-4 on my way to Georgia this weekend, I could feel a different “vibe” in the area. Can this “vibe” cause an immediate catharsis in not only the South, but in the nation? Who knows….. but, to me, it’s a pretty strong reminder that we — and I — have to do/perceive better if we want to actually be better, more civilized, more compassionate, more logical, more “common sense” people; or, do we want to continue speeding towards the off-ramp of Rome, Greece, the Ottomans, and every other great civilization throughout history? One way or the other, we’ll find out… 


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