3 things privileged Christians can learn from the Trayvon Martin case

This is like déjà vu all over again 220px-TrayvonMartinHoodedAs the George Zimmerman trial draws to a close and a “not guilty” verdict looms, the response to the Trayvon Martin case is radically divided along racial lines. This seems to happen every time a nationally-publicized incident occurs between blacks and whites. It happened in 1991 when black parolee Rodney King was brutally beaten by white LAPD officers. It happened in 1999 when white NYPD officers fired 41 shots at African immigrant Amadou Diallo and killed him. And it happened in 2009 when white Cambridge, MA police officer St. James Crowley arrested black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. while breaking into his own home, just to name a few examples.

Based on my conversations with both blacks and whites, I’ve noticed a stark contrast in how the different groups tend to perceive these incidents. Blacks often perceive them as outrageously unjust, oppressive, critically important, and indicative of deep-rooted racial injustices in American society. On the other hand whites often perceive these incidents as relatively less important, as isolated events that aren’t necessarily related to larger societal issues, and/or the result of blacks engaging in “race-baiting” or “playing the race card.”

Indeed, a 2012 Gallup poll study that compared black and non-black (the majority of which were white) reactions to the Trayvon Martin case found that “Blacks [compared to non-blacks] are paying much closer attention to the news of the incident; overwhelmingly believe that George Zimmerman is guilty of a crime; [and] believe that racial bias was a major factor in the events leading up to the shooting.” Based on these data and my own personal observations, it’s seems that blacks and non-blacks/whites tend to perceive this event and the underlying issues that are related to the event very differently. What is perceived as a serious problem to black people doesn’t seem to matter as much (or at all) to others. What is perceived as unjust and racist to black people seems to go unnoticed by others...

I'm guest posting over at Ed Stetzer's blog at christianitytoday.com. Head over there to read the rest...