WASHINGTON -- For every black man in America, from the millionaire in the corner office to the mechanic in the local garage, the Trayvon Martin tragedy is personal. It could have been me or one of my sons. It could have been any of us.
How many George Zimmermans are out there cruising the streets? How many guys with chips on their shoulders and itchy fingers on the triggers of loaded handguns? How many self-imagined guardians of the peace who say the words "black male" with a sneer?
We don't yet know every detail of the incident between Martin and Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., that ended with an unarmed 17-year-old high-school student being shot dead. But we know enough to conclude that this is an old, familiar story.
We know from tapes of Zimmerman's 911 call that he initiated the encounter, having decided that Martin's presence in the neighborhood was suspicious. We know that when Zimmerman told the 911 operator that he was following Martin, the operator responded, "OK, we don't need you to do that." We know that Zimmerman kept following Martin anyway.
"This guy looks like he is up to no good," Zimmerman said on the 911 tape.
Please tell me, what would be the innocent way to walk down the street with an iced tea and some Skittles? Hint: For black men, that's a trick question.
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