Are You for Trayvon, Zimmerman, or Justice?

Are You for Trayvon, Zimmerman, or Justice?

TWO SIDES OF JUSTICE: Public opinion in the Trayvon Martin-Geroge Zimmerman case has tended to split along racial lines, and it's doubtful some questions will ever be answered. (Photos: Wikipedia)

With the announcement of new details about events leading up to the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin by neighborhood-watch volunteer George Zimmerman, at least three things are clear: we likely will never know exactly what happened that evening of Feb. 26 in Sanford, Florida; the situation could’ve been avoided had Zimmerman followed the 911 operator’s instructions and stayed in his vehicle; Martin and Zimmerman were both flawed human beings like the rest of us.

Yesterday, as prosecutors released more than 200 pages of photos and eyewitness accounts showing Zimmerman had wounds to his face and the back of his head, the national debate about the case (which consistently appears to be divided sharply along racial lines), was reignited. While supporters of Zimmerman and his claim of “self-defense” see the new evidence as proof of his innocence, others view it as a mixed bag that doesn’t necessarily bolster his defense. The lead detective in the case against Zimmerman said he believes Zimmerman initiated the fight by getting out of his car to confront Martin, and that he should be charged with manslaughter.

Further complicating the public debate was the release of details from an autopsy report that showed Martin had traces of THC, which is from marijuana, in his blood and urine. A scan of comments around the blogosphere and social media reveal that, in the minds of some, this information reinforced the assumption that Martin was complicit in triggering the incident that led to his death, though one expert pointed out that the amount of THC found in Martin’s blood was “so low that it may have been ingested days earlier and played no role in Martin’s behavior.” Nevertheless, for many it added weight to the argument that Martin was not the young, angelic kid that they feel the media painted him to be.

In addition to this new information, new photos of George Zimmerman were released showing the 28-year-old soon after the incident with Martin. The images offer a clear picture of his alleged injuries. Plus, news outlets released the surveillance video of Trayvon Martin at the Sanford 7-11 store, purchasing the iced tea and Skittles that he carried when he crossed paths with Zimmerman several minutes later.

In a way, the public debate over the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case has become a mirror for seeing our nation’s ongoing racial tensions, with many from the White community predictably aligning with Zimmerman and many from the Black and non-White communities siding with Martin’s family. Though there are certainly Whites who side with Martin and Blacks who side with Zimmerman, the anecdotal evidence for a stereotypical racial split is incontrovertible. In fact, this is not strictly an issue of race, but of justice. Nevertheless, in this era of the first Black president, tensions are already high when it comes to race. These are tensions that were heightened by partisan politics during the 2008 presidential campaign and subsequent election of Barack Obama, and that continue to flare whenever a new racial controversy erupts. It proves we have a long way to go in bridging our country’s racial and cultural divides.

What Do You Think?

Does the release of this new information make you more inclined to believe one party’s side of the story? Does the autopsy’s revelation that Martin had THC in his system affect your view of the teen’s role in the confrontation? What can we do as a nation to turn this tragic episode into something constructive?

Remembering Donna Summer’s Faith

Remembering Donna Summer’s Faith

WORKING HARD: Donna Summer in the recording studio in 1977.

Disco great Donna Summer died yesterday at the age of 63. She was reportedly suffering from lung cancer and believed it to have been caused by exposure to toxins during the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.

The Sun reported that Summer was in a nearby apartment on September 11, 2001 and quoted her as saying, “I couldn’t go out, I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I had to keep the blinds down and stay in my bedroom. I went to church and light came back into my soul. That heaviness was gone.” It also described Summer as a “devout Christian.”

In a 2008 interview with ABC News’ “Nightline,” Summer recalled discovering her voice in church as a child. “I opened my mouth and … this voice just shot out of me. It shocked me and it shocked everybody in the room. I started crying, and I heard the voice of God say to me, ‘You’re going to be famous, and this is power and you’re never to misuse this power.”

CBN News reported that “Summer’s family said in a statement that they ‘are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.'” The network also said her former publicist Michael Levine said Christian faith was increasingly important to her as she got older. “She was very committed to God, spirituality, and religion,” Levine is quoted as saying. “Her passion in her life, besides music, was God, spirituality and religion.”

According to Elev8, Summer was “born again” in 1983 after a number of family tragedies and personal trials. “As her sudden, disco-era fame knocked her sideways Summer, who had already been suffering from headaches, insomnia and ulcers, was prescribed antidepressants, and developed what she described in a 1981 interview as ‘a very heavy’ dependence. In her 2003 autobiography,Ordinary Girl: The Journey, she describes how she almost committed suicide by jumping out of a hotel window,” the article said. It quotes the singer as saying, “I was Christian my whole life, but I didn’t really execute it – I didn’t live it. And I came back to realizing that without it I couldn’t get through this stuff I had to go through. I needed something that grounded me and it had to be really strong.”

Update: Terry Mattingly, editor of the media criticism site Get Religion, says some media sites got the timeline of Summer’s conversion wrong and attempted to link it to a decline in her career. “The actual sequence is more complex and looks like this — disco queen, depression, attempted suicide, reborn faith and then more hits in a variety of musical styles,” Mattingly wrote. It’s unclear from the post, however, when she was “born again.”

Were you a fan of Donna Summer? If so, which of her songs get your feet moving?