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Zimmerman-Martin: 3 Simple Facts & 1 Simple Truth

Can we turn tragedy into opportunity?

For over 10 years, clients have hired me to make sense of their marketing situation. I’ve been told that I have the unique ability to make the obscure obvious. You’ve become accustomed to Hot Marketing Tips providing practical marketing strategy or tactics. This issue is different. It is my effort at making the obscure obvious regarding the Zimmerman trial and its aftermath. Stop here or read on… it’s your choice.

3 Simple Facts

There are three simple facts that everyone can agree upon:

  1. Trayvon Martin is dead.
  2. George Zimmerman pulled the trigger.
  3. Zimmerman was found not guilty of the charge of murder or manslaughter

The details that lay underneath these facts will be argued about for decades. People will choose the narrative that supports their beliefs and opinions and little can be said to change their position.

Personal Story

At 16, my friend Dennis and I traveled to downtown Cincinnati to attend a cultural festival as a field trip for extra credit (and for the food). As we rode the escalator down from the skywalk, a young man with an attitude and an umbrella stood at the bottom waiting for us. When we stepped off the escalator, he raised the closed umbrella and tapped the tip against my chest. He said “Give me a dollar for the bus.”

I did and he went away. In the 35 years since, occasionally something will happen that will trigger that vivid memory of being forced into submission by threat. It was distasteful and makes me angry.

1 Simple Truth

The Zimmerman verdict has ripped open the scarred wound of racism carried by our black community. Much like the umbrella tap on my chest, it has triggered the memories (either distant or recent) of prejudice. Those experiences of racism are worse than distasteful. The 1 Simple Truth we must recognize is that our black community is hurting.

Observations

This week, I have witnessed two responses to the current circumstances:

  1. Argument about the details of the trial, evidence and verdict
  2. An effort to ignore the issue, hoping it will go away

A Parable

The story of the Good Samaritan is well known. A man lies on the side of the road wounded. A priest walks by. A Levite walks by. A Samaritan stops and has compassion on the wounded man. Our response to this situation will determine if we are a Levite or a Samaritan.

How to Show Compassion

I shared my views with a client and his response was “So what should we do?” I suggested:

  • Reach out to the black community on a one-to-one basis as they are your colleagues, neighbors, employees, church members, school parents or friends.
  • Ask “What are your feelings about the Zimmerman verdict?”
  • Ask “Help me understand your perspective?”
  • Ask “Is there anything that I can do?”

This week, I met Harold, a manager at Staples. He was helping me buy a headset. Harold is black. I shared with him the 3 Simple Facts and 1 Simple Truth and then asked these questions. We had an engaging discussion. I learned a few things. He appreciated being asked. I found a new friend.

We have an opportunity this right now to make America a better place. It not only takes compassion to reach out to the hurting, it takes courage.

I’m ready. Are you?

Ask these questions and tell me about your experience below.

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3 comments on “Zimmerman-Martin: 3 Simple Facts & 1 Simple Truth
  1. Jim Kummer says:

    Drew:

    You say reach out to black people which is fine. How about white people though? How about this white guy beat to death in North College Hill? One of the black kids has to write a paper or something.
    I read in the paper that black folks were upset because an unarmed boy is dead. I totally agree that it is a tragedy. However, as you stated in the facts, the jury found Zimmerman innocent.
    The Good Samaritan parable did not specify color.
    Amen Brother.

  2. Drew Dinkelacker says:

    Jim – There is no doubt that Everyone needs compassion!

  3. Drew Smith says:

    Drew – great post. I had a fantastic conversation with two African American pastor friends over the weekend. It was powerful to hear their stories, fear, frustration and sadness.

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