I know The Narrative (blessings and peace be upon it) says that once America elected a (half) black president, the race problem vanished forever, but you’ll have to pardon my assertion that we all knew that was bunk from the word go. So when it comes to all the surprise that George Zimmerman was acquitted of second degree murder charges over the slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida on grounds of self-defense for a fight that it was well established he started, my only real response to the situation is, “Well duh.”
Seriously, what was going to happen? The all-white jury was going to convict Zimmerman of maliciously causing the death of Martin? I mean, really. Trayvon Martin was an African-American teenage male walking down the street in a hoodie talking on a cell phone! In Florida! He’s lucky he made it as long as he did.
A conviction was never in the cards. Sorry, but the system in which we live and operate and function as well as we have for the last 200-plus years is not set up in any way to convict people for murdering black male youth. It’s not the function of American courts and it never has been. What, this time was going to be different? Why? Because Facebook? Because Twitter outrage hashtags?
Yeah, it seemed like an open and shut case—hell, the defense attorney opened his arguments with a knock-knock joke!—but there’s a reason things like Florida’s stand-your-ground laws come into being in the first place. Because the justice that we’re seeking to enact isn’t justice for Trayvon Martin. It’s justice for George Zimmerman.
You could call it state bias if you want, I don’t think you’d be wrong, but the racism at the heart of public policy, cops, courts, and so on, runs so deep that it’s more than just the state. It’s the very heart of white America’s culture. It motivates politics, laws and our vision of peoples’ roles in society. A young black man, Trayvon Martin didn’t have to do anything to look suspicious to George Zimmerman. He was suspicious just by being there, and even if Zimmerman thought he was being vigilant as he ignored the police telling him to stop following the teenager, a question like, “Hey is this some racist bullshit?” probably never occurred to him. Because even more than Martin looked like a young black man, he looked like a criminal.
What’s the answer? There isn’t one. You would think maybe a few more centuries post-slavery would help, that maybe by 2365, shit would clear up some, but I’m less convinced that, should America exist in that glorious future as it does now, much of anything will be different. Look at Europe and the Jews. Look at China and Tibet. Look at Australia and the Aborigines. Any dominant culture necessitates a minority scapegoat, and while white male dominant American culture is unique because it’s the only one that forcibly imported its scapegoats via the slave trade, the principle is essentially the same. The answer is people are terrible. In this case, white people are terrible. The Zimmerman case certainly isn’t the first time it’s gone down that way and I’m as sure as I’ve ever been of anything that it won’t be the last.
So you see George Zimmerman walking out of the courthouse and off to live the rest of his life with what no matter what the court says was most definitely a murder on his conscience, and you shake your enlightened head in wonder at the miscarriage of justice and you ask the question, “Really?”
And my answer is, “Yes, really.” Look around you. If this doesn’t make complete sense as a consistent behavior with what history has shown us is the treatment of and respect for black people in America, you’re deluding yourself.