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Utahns disturbed by Trayvon Martin case

By Nkoyo Iyamba | Posted - Mar. 28, 2012 at 5:38 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY -- Protesters around the country are calling the killing of a Florida teen a "hate crime" and the result of "racial profiling."


No mother should have to talk to any child about the fact that they can be in danger just because of the color of their skin.

–Danielle Lower


Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer, who insists Martin initiated the confrontation. But skeptics are raising suspicions that the police department is trying to cover up key evidence in the case to prevent the man who shoot the teen from being arrested.

Many Utahns have been closely following the case. Salt Lake City mother Danielle Lower is among that group.

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"No mother should have to talk to any child about the fact that they can be in danger just because of the color of their skin," she said.

Lower and her husband adopted their 11-year-old son Eli from Haiti five years ago. She says her neighborhood shields her family from racial prejudice, but now she's emotional as she ponders the difficult task of explaining racism to her young son as they prepare him for college.

"Eventually he might leave our home and might venture outside of Utah," Lower said. "We have to prepare him for that, and I think this case made that even more crucial and more urgent."

Irene Ota is a professor at the University of Utah's School of Social Work. She says Utahns should be talking about the case.

"It's the not knowing that's dangerous and damaging," she said. "For us to know there are these contradictions in our society that helps us to stop what's called 'internalizing' or believing them about ourselves."


It's not about blaming other people, it's about looking at what happened, why did it happen, how can we stop it from happening again, and it is our own individual responsibility.

–Irene Ota


Ota continued, "It's not about blaming other people, it's about looking at what happened, why did it happen, how can we stop it from happening again, and it is our own individual responsibility."

Lower isn't saying the Trayvon Martin case is about racial profiling, but as a mom, she's just a little more sensitive to it.

"I think we all think we know what it feels like, but until one of your children is treated like that, it tears you apart," she said.

As Utah grows more diverse, with more cross-cultural and cross-racial families living here, the Martin case is hitting closer to home - even though Florida is hundreds of miles away.

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Nkoyo Iyamba

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