Fact, Fiction and The Gray In Between

In any given week, hundreds of news stories surface – some seem ludicrous at best, while others strike an emotional chord. What’s sometimes difficult, however, is to sift through the various sources to then decipher what’s fact, fiction and all the gray in between.

The Trayvon Martin case has garnered national attention and much like the frenzy that erupted after Koney 2012, people quickly rushed to conclusions. Now, as more reports surface and it’s become clear some media outlets reported false information, it’s anyone’s guess what to believe. NBC recently confirmed “a third NBC employee has been fired from the network after yet another misleadingly edited George Zimmerman 911 tape surfaced from the Trayvon Martin shooting”.

Though people’s opinions may remain steadfast, isn’t it important to engage young people in conversations about these incongruities? I would say yes. Trayvon Martin has become symbolic of an experience for so many and so long as people value this case, it’s necessary for people to talk about all the information out there, especially with young people. We live in a time when people often develop quick, uninformed opinions based on what we believe to be true. Sometimes this is our only option, but more often than not, it’s possible to at least access differing perspectives, if we’re willing to really hear what our adversaries are saying.

So, why were the NBC employees fired? The most recent, according to Jonathan’s Seidl’s article

“In a story for the “Today” show on March 20, Luciano used part of the George Zimmerman 911 call in which an entire phrase (italicized below) was taken from a later part of the conversation:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good or on drugs or something. He’s got his hand in his waistband. And he’s a black male.
Dispatcher: Are you following him?
Zimmerman: Yeah.
Dispatcher: Okay, we don’t need you to do that.
But here’s how the call really went:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.
Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he white, black, or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.”

If you know a young person impacted by the Trayvon Martin case, ask her what she thinks of the above passage? Challenge her to think critically about her opinion and analyze new information which will inevitably result in a deeper level of awareness. The point is not to change her opinion, but rather to think it through so she can better articulate her thoughts and feelings.


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