Race, Zimmerman and One Small List

Since the slaying of Trayvon Martin hit the main stream air waves, the conversation about race in America has erupted in a maelstrom of heated commentary, misguided angst and cowardice. So many people are quick to label George Zimmerman a racist murderer, call Martin a deserving street thug, and deny the role race has played in the entire matter. Even seemingly honest conversations about the killing of Trayvon Martin get mired in this toxic cloud of politeness – political correctness.

But a shroud of dishonesty does not change the facts. George Zimmerman suspected Trayvon Marin of nefarious behavior in large part because of the color of his skin. But while Zimmerman is entirely guilty of taking the life of a promising young man, he is not solely to blame for his mistaking a Black teen for a troublemaker. The tendency to suspect Black male teenagers of illegal behavior is deeply engrained in our sociological fabric in the United States. And the fact that Zimmerman is hispanic does not make him immune to this tendency.

So when we are talking about race and the Zimmerman trial, to deny that race had anything to do with Martin’s death or the outcome of the trial is a bankrupt notion. Race played a part in both events.

Some media personalities see fit to stick it to those incensed by Zimmerman’s acquittal (and the Black community at large) by trying to diminish the significance of Martin’s killing. In response to outcry about Trayvon Martin’s death, they ask why no one is getting mad about Black-on-Black crime – which is COMPLETE bullshit. (This non-sequitur question even happened to me at work!) People ARE mad about Black-on-Black crime. We talk about Black-on-Black crime a lot. But before the Trayvon Martin’s death, you didn’t feel the need to make yourself a part of that conversation!

I was impressed by at least one tv aired conversation on race recently thanks to my number 2 tv crush – Don Lemon.

Don’s simple advice: 5 – dress respectfully, 4 – quit using the ‘n’ word, 3 – don’t trash your home, 2 – quit stigmatizing education, 1 – reduce the number of children born out of wedlock. Don Lemon is being honest. And he is right.


I Am So Ashamed of Spike Lee

Yo Spike! I am so ashamed of you. You used to be an influential voice of black America. You used to be a role model for black American men. Now I you are just a coward.

You are not brave enough to be a hero. You are not strong enough to believe in due process. You are not influential enough to affect change in America.

What did you want to happen when you publicized an address for George Zimmerman? Did you urge concerned citizens to write him peacefully patriotic letters convincing him to admit his culpability and face his punishment? Did you anticipate a small cadre of peaceful protesters to rally against racial profiling by law enforcement near Zimmerman’s door? Did you expect his mail carrier and paper deliverer to slip him persuasive, non-threatening notes?

Or did you want the New Black Panthers to make good on their bounty? Or maybe you wanted to see George Zimmerman’s home firebombed? Did you want him violently ripped from his home and throttled by a maniacal mob. Did you want him harassed and intimidated? Did you want his family punished and frightened? Oh, maybe you just want to see him shot in the street.

What did you want to happen Spike?

I am so ashamed of you. With your platform, you had the chance to rise above the counterproductive fog of vendettas and violence with a message of solidarity. But instead you offered nothing but racism. An eye for an eye, right?

New Black Panthers – Third-World Sentiment

As protests calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman continue to grow and new evidence in the case continues to be revealed, I am left shaking my head. I know it is sometimes hard for people to think calmly and rationally when an event the magnitude of Trayvon Martin’s killing occurs. But where do we draw the line between calls for justice and vigilantism?

A fresh injustice is being advocated. The New Black Panther Party* – a hate group according to the Souther Poverty Law Center – has offered a $10,000 bounty on George Zimmerman’s head. The leaders of this wretched group have not minced words over the intent of their proposition. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, ” came the response of their leader, Mikhail Muhammad. They’ve also called for the mobilization of 10,000 men to catch him. They would see George Zimmerman lynched – strung up and burned in a nod to atrocities of the past.

It seems Mr. Zimmerman has already been convicted in the realm of public opinion. The voices supporting justice for this man have been drowned out by the angry melee of politicians, picketers and grieving family calling for prosecution. But we cannot let anger set us on a retreat to the days of race riots and dead cops.

This isn’t Rodney King. George Zimmerman is not a cop. He is a man who made a grave mistake. He is already paying for that mistake, and will probably end up defending himself in a court of law. But bounties and calls to violence serve nothing more than to delegitimize appeals for open dialogue about racial equality. The death of this promising (yet not angelic) young man has created an opportunity for Americans work together and help each other. We can’t let Trayvon Martin’s death set us back. We must move past demands for retribution if we are ever to find the truth.


*Please note: The New Black Panther Party – which advocates hate, violence against whites and Jewish people, and racism – is different from the original Black Panther Party which promoted black empowerment, education and black entrepreneurship.

Racism Didn’t Kill Trayvon Martin; George Zimmerman Did

Zimmerman’s internal delusions of authority obliterated the bright future into which Trayvon Martin was walking.

It’s a tragedy of American culture. An unarmed teenager is killed while walking home with a bag of candy and an iced tea and the gunman isn’t even arrested.  Although this tragedy was not driven by racism, Trayvon Martin is a victim of stereotyping, prejudice and one man’s power trip.

What would you do if a dude in a hoodie was walking down your street? Would you call 911? Would you pursue him? Would you confront him? Would you initiate a physical altercation with him? What if he attacked you? Would you shoot him?

America is trapped in a whirlpool of xenophobia. At one time touted as a melting pot, American culture is now fractured. Commonalities that used to bind us together are now overshadowed by nugatory dissimilarities. George Zimmerman is not a racist. But his actions are evidence of the perpetual racial divide in America – Trayvon Martin’s mere genetic makeup made him a subject of suspicion and doubt.

This isn’t racism. It is prejudice. This is a deep-seeded prejudice toward minorities. When you pass a black, male stranger on the street, what do you do? Do you give a friendly nod? Do you look him in the eye? Do you smile? If you see a black man or a group of black men on the street, do you cross to the other side to “avoid confrontation”? Study yourself. Pay attention to your reactions next time you are walking down a street. There are some racial prejudices that are so deeply engrained in our cultural makeup that most people are not even aware of a change in behavior when they are expressing them.

This differs greatly from outright racism. For example, a recent pole by the Public Policy Polling organization revealed that 29 percent of Mississippi Republican voters support reestablishing the anti-micegenation laws that forbade black and white couples from marrying. In other words, in 2012, nearly 1 in 3 Republicans in Mississippi believe that interracial marriage should be outlawed. So, while the rest of America approves of the dismantlement of sociological barriers to racial equality and personal liberty, a large portion of Mississippi citizens desire to reinforce those barriers.

Sacrificing everyone’s civil rights for the sake of preventing another person from living freely because of the color of his or her skin is racism. Calling 911 because you think a guy is scoping houses in your neighborhood is not racism. Pursuing, confronting, and then physically engaging a person that you suspect of unlawful behavior is just plain stupid – and possibly crazy. But however misguided George Zimmerman’s actions were, they weren’t motivated by his personal racial prejudices – they were motivated by society’s.

Trayvon Martin wasn’t just some black kid. He was a boy, a son, a brother, a friend. Trayvon could have been any boy. He could have been my boy. The fact is George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman may have genuinely been afraid for his life. He suffered injuries I myself consider quite severe and indicative of his receiving a proper thrashing.

The night Trayvon martin was killed, it was pouring rain and ~60 degrees in Sanford, Florida. When Zimmerman left his car to pursue Martin, he uttered a curse under his breath. Contrary to popular belief, he did not say “These fucking coons.” He said, “It’s fucking cold.” To a Floridian, 60 and rainy is pretty fucking cold. (Hence Martin’s hoodie.)


It is Zimmerman’s actions leading up to the confrontation with Martin that society should be taking issue with. Zimmerman did not observe the protocol befitting a neighborhood watchman. Zimmerman carried a firearm. Zimmerman pursued Martin. Zimmerman elevated a possibly deleterious situation into a probable violent situation. Whether Zimmerman attacked Martin or Martin attacked Zimmerman is immaterial to the fact that had Zimmerman observed the protocol befitting a neighborhood watch captain, Trayvon Martin might be alive today. Zimmerman’s internal delusions of authority obliterated the bright future into which Trayvon Martin was walking.


Update: Post edited to revise estimated temperature on evening of February 26th.