Is Trayvon Martin a Victim Not Just of Racial Profiling But Youth Profiling Too?
By Caroline Linton
THE QUESTION burns for all teenagers: would George Zimmerman have singled out Trayvon Martin if he had been an adult?On George Zimmerman’s 911 call, he said Martin “looks black” before finally confirming the 17-year-old was black, but he also identified Trayvon as being in his “late teens.”
“A 30-something person would confront a teenager—something tells me he felt emboldened by [Trayvon’s] youthfulness,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of law and police studies at John Jay College in New York. “The seeds of this have to do with the youth of the person.”
It’s unclear what was going through Zimmerman’s mind when he confronted Martin, but one of the biggest debates raging around the case is whether Zimmerman racially profiled the teenager.
For some people, there’s no question that Zimmerman would not have singled out Martin as being “up to no good” if Martin had been white.
But what if he hadn’t been a teenager—what then?
Or what if Trayvon had been a Samoan grandmother? Have you thought about that? Huh?
There is little research on youth profiling, where an older person immediately assumes a teenager is “up to no good.” Some have speculated that a jury with greater minority representation would be more sympathetic to Martin.
But there’s no way to determine if it would be also different if the jury was made up of young people who know how it feels to be stopped and interrogated by, say, a 28-year-old man, since teenagers aren’t eligible to sit on juries.
Many teenagers have no doubt that Martin was stopped because of his age, and they’ve taken to social media to say so. “The fact is, a crime was committed against [Trayvon] by an adult and that adult needs to be held accountable,” reads one typical post on Tumblr by a high-school senior in Ontario.
Anyway, this is a good example of how the message has trickled down all the way to the dimmer corners of the hivemind that one crime that cannot be forgiven is Noticing Patterns.