Editor's note: Dr. Drew Pinsky is an HLN host and board-certified internist. He is on Twitter.
Monday night at 10 p.m ET on a special edition of HLN After Dark, Vinnie Politan is one-on-one with the Zimmerman prosecution team to try to find out what happened. HLN has been all over this case, and nothing is off-limits in this primetime interview.
The former neighborhood watch captain told authorities that he was pursuing the teenager because of a rash of crimes in the area. But when a confrontation ensued that fateful night of Feb. 26, 2012, Zimmerman said he was forced to shoot Martin in self-defense.
Many aspects of this trial have deeply affected me. It was so painful to watch Martin’s mother and father so visibly upset as they sat in court, day after day, hearing the details of their son’s death. Was Zimmerman paranoid? Was he preoccupied about people coming into his neighborhood? Did he have deep-seated issues that, perhaps, most of us have not yet been made aware? Everyone certainly has strong opinions here, but I do think that both Martin and Zimmerman, in some way, felt threatened.
Whether or not you feel that justice was served, there’s no doubt that this trial has sparked conversations about many different issues, including race relations and America’s kids -- black kids, white kids, your kids -- and how they perceive these things.
And even if you don’t believe that race played a role in this situation, understand that it is our own individual perspectives and experiences that have shaped our opinions about this case.
However, it’s important to note that whenever the conversation does turn to race, people can become deeply divided -- and they don’t have to be. And I say let us learn from these discussions. I can only hope that they will bring us closer together.
Many young people have watched this trial -- and they develop racial biases and stereotypes much earlier than you think. If anything, at least we can increase awareness as a result of this case about a very subtle operation of judgment we all have within us.
A few nights ago, I brought up the social psychology principle of the “Fundamental Attribution Error." This is where we observe an individual’s behavior and likely overestimate their personality that influences it and underestimate the contribution of the particular circumstance. And I think that's what is at the core of how we're all in this mess. Both Zimmerman and Martin made assessments of one another that may have been excessive based on their behavior that particular night.
Forget the hoodie for a moment. We all need to check how we make snap decisions that may be inaccurate about other people, particularly at times of intense stress. The 911 operator told Zimmerman not to follow Martin. Remember, you're not always the professional. Something is probably going to go bad -- and in this case, it did.
So again, my hopes are that this story raises our consciousness and does not divide us. We really have to be more reflective and more aware of what we may have not given much thought to until now.