In an attempt to ease the racial tensions that have been revived due to the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida, the Corpus Christi chapter of the NAACP hosted a dialogue with panelists at the Del Mar College Center for Economic Development in Corpus Christi, April 10.
The panelists came from all walks of life, varying in religion, gender, race and profession.
Philip Perez, editor of The South Texan, represented Texas A&M University-Kingsviille.
Terry Mills, president of the NAACP, moderated the talk and chose the questions to ask, which were contributed by the audience of approximately 60 people.
It was agreed upon by each panelist that it was best to wait for the facts to come out rather than jump to any rash conclusion.
“Don’t be too quick to put somebody in jail. You could always do it tomorrow,” said Jim Kaelin, Nueces County Sheriff.
A comment contributed from the crowd stated that this incident was “a bitter pill to swallow because it forces us to look in the mirror.”All the panelists agreed with the statement.
Perez blamed the media for sensationalizing the case.
“The media is to blame because they want to fuel emotions,” Perez said.
Dr. Nick Adame, another panelist and President of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) chapter in Corpus Christi, was confident justice would be served in due time.
“I do want to see justice served, but I want to see it the right way,” he said.
Though the turnout was better than expected for most people, Cynthia Gonzales took issue with the lack of youth in attendance.
“I feel like what’s missing from this room are 19 and under people,” she said. “They’re the ones who could tell us what (Martin) was probably facing. So often, we as a community come together to try to find solutions for helping young people, and often times young people are not even at the table.”
The forum closed on the question of how to prevent an incident like Martin’s to happen in Corpus Christi. Most answered the question with more dialogue, but Rabbi Kenneth Roseman said action was required as well.
“I’d like to see kids put down their defenses and pick up their shovels and then they start getting to know each other,” he said. “And that’s the first way you start.”