Lessons from an Alleged Hate Crime

Lessons from an alleged hate crime

Lessons from an alleged hate crime

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss the 3 lessons to be gleaned from the alleged hate crime of George Zimmerman who killed an unarmed black teenager.

First a quick update:

“Creativity without drugs”
In a new series of video interviews that chronicle leaders and developments in the addiction recovery world presented by Milestones Ranch Malibu Treatment Center, I interview Pete Martinez, renowned country music artist (who also performed for President Bush and Vice President Cheney during the Wyoming Inaugural party in Washington, D.C. on January 19th 2005) about the difference between performing sober and performing while on drugs. Pete also addresses the challenge many people suffering from addiction face based on the fear of self-expression and judgment. Watch it here.

Now, let’s talk about the 3 lessons to be gleaned from the alleged hate crime of George Zimmerman who killed an unarmed black teenager.

For people who live outside of the US: George Zimmerman, 28, a self-appointed volunteer neighborhood watch captain, admitted to shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last month. Martin was leaving a convenience store when Zimmerman who believed him to be suspicious called 911.  Zimmerman went on to claim that the teen started to run and that Zimmerman was following the boy; the dispatcher told him, “We don’t need you to do that.”

But Zimmerman ignored the directive and he pursued and eventually shot to death Martin who was unarmed.

Zimmerman’s representatives asserted that he was acting in self-defense, but the incident has become a racially charged story due to allegations of hate crime, racial profiling associated with the shooting, and the local police’s handling of the investigation. No charges have been made against Zimmerman and rallies across the country have been staged in support of Martin and demanding the arrest of Zimmerman.

However, the response has been extreme with people demanding more than justice – some are demanding revenge: The New Black Panthers Party has offered a $10,000 reward for the “capture and citizen’s arrest” of George Zimmerman.

Fox News Channel commentator Geraldo Rivera suggested that a hoodie worn by Martin was as much responsible for his death as the neighborhood watch captain who shot him. Rivera’s son said he was ashamed of his father’s words and subsequently, Rivera apologized for the comment. Rivera was also probably unaware that The National Rifle Association sells ‘Concealed Carry’ hoodies for concealing mid-size pistols. And Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) was asked to leave the House chamber after taking off his suit jacket and revealing that he was wearing a hoodie during a speech in tribute to Martin.

Meanwhile, movie director, Spike Lee, tweeted an address he believed to be for George Zimmerman but it was the address of an elderly couple in their 70s, who fearing for their life, fled their home and is currently hiding in a hotel.

There is no doubt that racism exists – in Kansas, three weeks ago, two black teens chased a white teen and poured gasoline on him and set him on fire stating “You get what you deserve, white boy” – but there was no mass outrage – and even less media publicity or mention of it. Read more.

Black singer and performer Chris Brown is still today being highly ostracized and condemned for assaulting his girlfriend Rihanna almost three years ago. But there was not and has not been any outrage after Charlie Sheen pleaded guilty to assaulting his then wife Brooke Mueller also three years ago.

1. Bias and prejudice affects us all
The lesson here is that we are bias; we are prejudice. We see the world through our own filters, our own programming, experiences, beliefs and insecurities – regardless of our skin color, race or creed. Why did the majority of us give Charlie Sheen a free pass while condemning Chris Brown for the same actions of violence against women?

Studies reveal that we actually ignore the facts when they are contrary to our point of view. Read my article “Bias, prejudice & domestic violence”.

Harvard University created a special test to determine subconscious beliefs surrounding race and prejudice. You can take the Harvard Racist Test here.

Other studies in neuro-science also reveal that we will change our responses when we hear or learn that the majority of the group gave a different answer than ours; an area of pain or discomfort is triggered in our brain. In other words, we are easily influenced by the group – the masses – the majority. Accordingly, we need to be vigilant as individuals about our own responses, our own thoughts and feelings and beware of being swayed by the majority opinion.

This leads to second lesson:

2. We are controlled by our emotions
Subconscious emotions of which we are not consciously aware control us. Some of our responses are also neurologically hardwired such as “Fight or Flight” a survival mechanism that kicks in whenever we feel threatened – our body automatically prepares for physically defensive action or it prepares us to flee from the danger.

Often we pride ourselves on believing that because we are civilized and technologically advanced people, we are therefore more rational and more in control of our lives and thoughts than people who might be from primitive cultures, low-income nations or poverty-stricken areas. But all humans are subject to the same range of emotions and we can all potentially be held captive by them; in the US, 10% of the population suffers from depression and antidepressants are the most prescribed drug in the US.

3. Take a personal inventory
Thus, the greatest lesson here is to emphasize the necessity for each and every one of us to look in our hearts and evaluate the way we respond and the judgments we make in every moment regarding everything and everyone in our lives; to beware of committing the same offenses that we accuse others of doing – offenses of bias, prejudice, bigotry, racism, favoritism, misogyny, misandry, and so forth; to beware that we don’t simply follow the crowd and make those same grave errors and offenses.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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3 replies
  1. Avatar
    Dubya Edwards says:

    All the facts and only the facts have not come to light, but the specs sure have and are all over the place. The incident is being used by some to prove “their” perspective or sell a product or service. This situation amongst many others proves one fact emphatically: racism and racial tension has increased severely since Obama took office. At least he’s learning a little something about his arrogant mouth: he didn’t say the police acted “stupidly” like the last a time a black/white issue hit the press.
    For this incident to be on Capitol Hill and escalated to the degree it has is beyond the pale of rational thinking. Blacks are making a grievous error in calling Zimmerman white, when he is very much Hispanic.

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