Saturday, July 6, 2013

Finally, I write about Trayvon

I've held off writing something about the Trayvon Martin case. It was not because I had become jaded to the senseless attacks and murders of young, black men. It was not because I wasn't surprised at yet another case like Trayvon's. It was because Trayvon was my son, my nephew, my grandson or even my brother.

During the year since Trayvon's murder, I have found one thing quite interesting, to use a word. When Trayvon was first attacked and killed, Zimmerman was identified as a white man and in his early images, he appeared to be just that, white. His mother is Peruvian and his father is white. By the time he was finally charged and arrested, he had (it appears) gained a tan and was now identifying as Hispanic, no doubt on the advice of his lawyers. I found that interesting because the majority of Peruvians do not identify themselves as Hispanic. Rather they identify as Mestizo, which historically has reflected European and Spanish ancestry or European and American Indian ancestry. Somewhere in a back room, it was decided that if Zimmerman appeared and self-identified as Hispanic, perhaps it would be less likely that he racially profiled Trayvon. After all, minorities do not racially profile other minorities, right? Racial profiling is something only done by whites.

Today I read a post wherein the author attempts to make the point that blacks kill other blacks, and whites, routinely and it doesn't make the news. She/he asks the question why is it news when a non-black kills a black person? Many, if not most of the commenters on the post agreed with the author of the post. My response is that a question like that would make sense in Utopia. In Utopia (at least as I visualize it), there would not be the stain of racism. Young black men would not automatically be deemed suspicious and possibly dangerous. White people would not invent some random black man as the perpetuator of a crime and BE BELIEVED. My black sons would not be routinely stopped while driving. My younger son would not be selected out of a crowd to be ticketed for jaywalking (he was the only non-white among his friends and it was 2:30 in the morning.

We don't live in Utopia. We live in a country stained by slavery and historical racism. We live in a country where all of the things mentioned above regularly occur. For those ignorant of our history, there was a time when blacks were routinely beaten, lynched and otherwise murdered and nothing was said or done. Most black families have ancestors who simply "disappeared." No one in the family knew what happened to them, many figured the klan got them. Can't exactly do that now days. So, we have the Zimmermans of our time.

Rather than America, black, white or other, embracing Trayvon's as a son who was tragically murdered, funds sprung up to provide monies for the defense of Zimmerman, the murderer. There has been ongoing debate as to whether Zimmerman was standing his ground by following a young man, a teenager, who was doing nothing wrong - and murdering him. Indeed, it was weeks before Zimmerman was even charged with a crime. Had it not been for the outcry from the black community, I doubt he would have been charged.

As the trial winds down to a close, I fear the outcome. I fear that Zimmerman will be acquitted and yet the death of yet another young, black man goes unpunished and will be, in some quarters, celebrated.

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