Everyone and their brother has weighed about the George Zimmerman trial (1) by now. An interesting site discussing white privilege is We Are Not Trayvon Martin, and Questlove of the Roots wrote a really compelling look at how this verdict has affected him. But, I keep reading and I keep thinking, and this is where I go to talk about stuff, so here we are.
Another thing I’ve seen from a couple of lawyer friends is their complaint that people who aren’t informed — i.e., have a law degree — shouldn’t be weighing in on the trial, the topic, their feelings. That seems fucking ridiculous to me. I think that most people know in their hearts that something went terribly wrong here. Even if the trial was locked down tight and the players all did exactly what they were supposed to do, guaranteeing the right decision by way of the justice system, there are so many other factors that scream out “THIS IS FUCKED UP.”
The Stand Your Ground law may not have been at the heart of what the prosecution or defense needed to prove/disprove, but the fact that it exists and was the reason that Zimmerman (among many) felt he could walk around the neighborhood like some sort of Gran Torino Clint Eastwood? That is crazy. I read a piece where the NRA said that the right to self-defense is a “fundamental human right.”
I could be way off, but I bet the Venn Diagram of NRA members and megaChristians overlaps quite a bit. I also remember that even PRE-hippie Jesus, there was that whole Ten Commandments thing … that “Thou Shalt Not Kill?” Remember that one? I don’t think those were negotiable. I don’t think that you can say, “Yeah, but if he’s on my lawn … OR Yeah, but if he’s walking through my gated community and looks suspicious.” I don’t remember Moses talking about any asterisks there. Just — Don’t Kill. Period.
If we’re talking fundamental human rights — can a woman shoot a person trying to give her a transvaginal ultrasound? Self-defense?
Seriously, though — eating, shelter, healthcare. These are fundamental human rights. I’d go so far to say that now, an education should be a fundamental human right. But I’d get it if you can’t get on board with that. I think you should revise your thoughts about what it means to get in on the “pursuit of happiness,” but we can save that for another time.
I hope, that if nothing else, this trial, this case, this verdict — allows white and black people to come together and talk. Be honest. I was just thinking about this the other day, actually. I’d love to start a column or a talk show or something about race. Because whatever “post-racial” is *supposed* to mean, it’s not here. It’s not even close. (2) And I think if we’re ever going to get to post-racial, it’s going to start with just being real. Real talk, you know?
From the most important to most trivial. I just want to see people okay with being able to just to discuss things. And, I’ll say that we’re far from there. There are so many things I want to know about the experiences of people of color and am terrified to ask. Afraid I’m going to look racist. (3) Afraid I’m going to be seen as one of the people who hates, rather than wants to get intimate with a culture and a way of life that is different than mine.
I hope this opens something. I hope it opens up our eyes. I hope it opens up our hearts. I hope it opens up the truth that for all the changes that have occurred, it seems that not much has changed, after all.
(1) It’s telling that I want to call it the Trayvon Martin trial. He’s dead. He can’t be convicted of anything, and he wasn’t the one who needed to account for his actions, after all was said and done. But, his face and name are on my mind and it sure seemed like he was the one on trial — in order to prove that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, it seemed like it was a question of proving whether or not Trayvon was the problem, rather than the victim.
(2) There’s no way we’re “post-racial” when people of Mexican heritage and American citizenship can’t sing the national anthem without people losing their ever living minds AND when Cheerios releases a commercial with a mixed-race family and those same people freak the fuck out. Seriously? Are people mad because the LGBTQs are gaining ground on equality and love and happiness? Or what?
(3) Also, heads up: you can’t be racist if you’re a minority. You can be hateful, you can be prejudiced, you can treat people outside of your race/ethnicity like shit. But racism is a systemic, huge thing. Unless you are in a place of power/being able to oppress (i.e. in the majority rule), you can’t be racist. All of a minority’s hate or prejudice isn’t going to keep the white man down. That’s just some sociology.