Trayvon Martin and the Failure of Multiculturalism

Ludovica's picture

The recent acquittal of George Zimmerman, who killed the 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida in February this year, has sparked protests across the African-American community in the US, who are protesting against the verdict of the jury.

President Obama declared during a public speech, that the protests are the result of racist discrimination against black men who are often judged by the colour of their skin:

"It's important to recognize that the African-America community is looking at this issue through a set of experience and history that doesn't go away. There are very few African-American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. [...] The African- American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparity in the application of our criminal laws."

Trayvon Martin might have been a ‘thug', he might have acted suspiciously and might have assaulted Zimmerman.

However, rather than focusing on whether Zimmerman reacted in self-defence (a right that is often abused and extremely hard to prove right or wrong) or not, the argument here is on the conversations going on about racial discrimination and prejudices that show still how ephemeral any integration can be.

Multiculturalism vs Integration

The case of Martin is just the latest example of how ‘multiculturalism' is not a synonym of integration, acceptance, or harmonized cohabitation. What is happening among the African-American community is the result of years of discrimination, abuses and generalization. It is the outcome of a society who covers its eyes and ears whilst it rationalizes and impartially condemns or absolves actions.

The disparity in law which often penalizes black people is remarkable and the profiling of a black man as being uneducated, dangerous, aggressive and one who lives according to the rules of the street is the plague that infects societies.

Reality speaks loud and examples of racial discriminations resonate all across the world, even in those countries where integration seems to finally be achieved. Seems. The surface lies, and underneath is a disconcerting truth: some people are unable to embrace diversity and barriers of hate will always be built among races.

Let's be honest, in a scenario where the roles were reversed, how many chances would a black man have to be acquitted, without being considered a thug, delinquent, trouble-seeker? The Martin case brought to surface the resentment of African-American people who are tired of being judged by the colour of their skin.

This article does not aim to absolve black people and condemn the white ones, or vice versa. Instead, this article aims to highlight the importance of judging individuals, and their actions, one by one. Evil and good exist in every race, the mistake that is always committed is to generalize. It is this mistake that creates a tremendous indifference to contextualization and a nonchalance that enables hate to cross boundaries and intoxicate minds.

Ludovica Iaccino is an Italian who graduated in international journalism and is currently living in London. Read more posts by her here.

Share with friends