A local young woman’s YouTube video, made in response to reactions to Trayvon Martin’s death, has garnered thousands of views and comments online.
Emma Halling, a Marian graduate from Elkhart who is a sophomore at University of Kansas, had been following the news coverage of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s fatal shooting by George Zimmerman and had discussed its ramifications in one of her classes. She decided to create the YouTube video “I am not Trayvon Martin,” though, after attending the Amnesty International Annual General Meeting in Denver, where she saw “a lot of middle-class white kids” wearing shirts that state “I am Troy Davis” or “I am Trayvon Martin.”
Her video calls for “middle class white activists” to identify how society has indoctrinated them with the same ideas that may have made George Zimmerman suspicious of Trayvon Martin.
“Realizing that you more closely resemble a homicidal oppressive force than a helpless victim is a really uncomfortable thing to do. I know,” she says in the video.
“Real change is effected when we own up to our actions, our privilege and our complicity with the system that murdered Trayvon and countless others,” she continues.
Her YouTube video has brought attention from a blog on The Washington Post’s website, The Root, a website dedicated to African-American news and perspectives, and several other websites.
As of Friday, Halling’s video had received more than 330,000 YouTube views with more than 9,500 comments left below the video. Reactions have been mixed. The YouTube video has received more than 4,800 “likes” and more than 1,500 “dislikes,” and responses on YouTube and on other forums include comments praising Halling for her insight alongside comments blasting her video for encouraging racism.
Those that are making critical comments, Halling said, are misunderstanding her point.
“What I’m saying is, if you’re effectively going to be an activist, you need to realize how you’ve benefitted from programs that discriminate against others” and recognize your role in discriminatory systems in this country, she said.
She doesn’t respond to the individual comments under her videos, but said she has replied to some of the more thought-out responses to her video online.
She didn’t expect her video to go viral like it has, she admitted.
“I expected about six views — my mom, my dad, a couple professors and some friends,” she said.
While at college, Halling is studying American studies and women’s studies.
Editor’s note: Emma is the daughter of Greg and Patricia Halling. He is the managing editor of The Elkhart Truth, but played no role in the assigning or reporting of this story.