The tragedy of the Zimmerman trial
The title of this post is incorrect; You need to make that tragedies, as in plural. The first tragedy that occurred, of course, was the tragedy of the events that night leading to the death of Trayvon Martin. Justified or not, the death of any person is always a tragedy –it is a tragedy for the parents and family of the deceased, it may be a tragedy of life events that led up to the person becoming deceased, and, for any normal person who, justified or not, had a hand in causing the person’s demise it is something that will haunt them throughout their days. It was a tragedy for Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother and Trayvon Martin was no Jeffrey Dahmer.
It is a tragedy that this ever went to trial to begin with and that it did so for political reasons sparked from not simply misleading and distorted media spin but out and out lies put prominently out there. Ninety-nine plus percent of people in the U.S. did not watch the trial and the case evidence against Zimmerman (of which there was precious little and even the majority of the witnesses called by the prosecution ended up helping the defense pretty much entirely). No, most people are going on their memories of edited 911 calls (thank you MSNBC) that took Zimmerman’s comments utterly out of context to make him appear racist, and the media focusing on the 911 operator telling Zimmerman that he didn’t need to follow Martin (and from the evidence in court it is clear that he stopped following Martin at that suggestion — I’ll come back to that word, suggestion in a minute). The media entirely ignored the two requests — suggestions– by that same 911 operator that Zimmerman watch and let him/her know if Martin “was doing anything else.” Both the ‘you don’t need to follow’ and the ‘watch and see what he does’ statements were not binding orders given by a member of law enforcement but rather suggestions given by someone doing a job that you, or me, or anyone with a high school diploma can do with no other credentials.
It is a tragedy that the media and those high up in organizations such as the NAACP decided to spin this as a white-against-black racist act not only based on absolutely no evidence but before they knew more than the names of the men and that there was a difference in shades of the colour of their skins. Zimmerman was first branded ‘white’ and then labeled a ‘white hispanic’ –whatever the hell that is. Zimmerman is more accurately a multi-mixed race human: His grandfather was half black, he had a Native Peoples (South American Indian) grandmother, he had Hispanic and Caucasion heritage, he had a Jewish father and a Catholic mother. He was so racist that he voted for Obama and volunteered his time tutoring poor children — black, white, and hispanic. Yet the media presented him as a leading candidate for the leadership of the KKK.
It is a tragedy that, after investigating the circumstances of events, the police rightly decided not to charge him on the grounds that there was sufficient evidence he had acted in self-defense (the Stand Your Ground law not even coming into play) and then, under political pressure, decided to charge him with second-degree murder anyway. That very same week in a Florida community not far away, a black man in his 60s shot and killed a much younger white man who was beating the snot out of him to the extent he feared for his life — he was not, rightly, charged with second-degree murder or any other crime. He was not labeled a racist. He did not have powerful political forces, including the so-called Department of Justice, aiding and abetting protests calling for his head.
It is a tragedy that the police chief in charge of the initial investigation was fired because he insisted on pointing to all the evidence that this was an act of self-defense under the law. His career is ruined.
It is a tragedy that while we rightly deplore the use of the N-word (here, I’ll go all un-PC and use it –Nigger) everyone laughs off and excuses the deplorable C-word (here I’ll go all what should be un-PC and use it — Cracker). You know, I remember being in the grocery store parking lot at the age of 7 and a car full of kids went past and screamed out the window ‘you stupid white honky’ and I was so confused. My best friend was Carla Logan. She spent hours brushing my hair and wishing for a ‘relaxer’ so she could have hair like mine. I, in turn, was incredibly envious of her thick, dark plaits and went off to school on many mornings with my Ema having fixed my hair ‘like Carla’s’ with five or six braids sprouting from the crown of my head. I couldn’t understand how these kids could throw this slur at me when they didn’t know me and only based on the colour of my skin. Despite the gains of the Civil Rights Movement, there was still deep and abiding anti-Black racism when I was a child and there was also the beginnings of anti-White racism. All these years on, you’d think both had been put firmly under the ground and, for the majority, both have been.
Most of all, I think, it is a tragedy of an American society at a cross-roads –in large part a manufactured cross-roads –in terms of race relations. It is a tragedy that, rather than embracing and celebrating the fact that the majority of Americans voted for a black (or white, you know, he is half and half) President, not once but twice, the meme put out by the media is all about how deep and overwhelmingly pervasive are the racist attitudes of the average American. People who didn’t vote for Obama didn’t do so because they are racists. Any criticism of Obama’s policies is all because people are racist. People, like George Zimmerman, who did vote for Obama — well never mind that, they are racist. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a minority of folks out there who are racist but that is not the majority –even of the many people who voted against Obama: They voted against him because of his political stances, not the colour of his skin.
It is a tragedy that, when all the evidence points to a post-racial society, race is suddenly being inserted into everything — a societal mirror of the Zimmerman trial.
The biggest tragedy by far, however, is that by doing this, by inserting race and racism into everything, racism that may not have been there before will begin to fester and grow: That is a direct outcome of any group of people who feel under threat. We are likely to see greater anti-Black racism begin to fester among whites (and anyone else who is not Black, like Hispanics and Asians and…) as they feel under attack and that it has turned into ‘us against them.’ We are likely to see greater anti-White racism fester as, again, it turns into an ‘us against them’ mentality. From a psychological, sociological, anthropological, and even biological perspective, this becomes a natural response, even if the perceived threat is artificially created. The biggest tragedy then, is that we all lose.