Sunday, 14 July 2013

Race, Youth, and the Zimmerman Trial

I know this is a far cry from my usual blog posts, but I believe that the time needs to be taken to address the tragedy that happened last night. As a black woman it is impossible not to be moved by what happened to Trayvon Martin. But, this goes beyond the presumption of innonence and the legal system, it speaks to how we value human life and the notion of white privilege. I am speaking of white privilege because it is not always the same as racism. I am the last person to speak out about white people. I'm married to one. He is the one that got me to write this blog post because he understands that sometimes these things need to be written down.

White privilege refers to the set of societal privileges that white people are argued to benefits from beyond those commonly experienced by people of color in the same social, political or economic spaces. 

White privilege does not necessarily mean that one is racist (sometimes they are, but most of the time that is not the case) but rather that white people benefit from a system that is racist. They are given preferential treatment not because of who they are and how they behave, but the color of their skin. White privilege means that one won't have to worry about their crimes reflecting upon the entire group, or that their child will be killed simply for being a white guy walking in a neighborhood that is privileged. White skin works like a free pass to opportunities that people of color will never have. Even if they manage to educate themselves, have good jobs and live in a n ice neighborhood they will always have the burden of proof. They must prove that they live there, own that car, that they are not a criminal. The Zimmerman defense was predicated on prejudices ingrained in the culture. Martin was a teenager walking back to his dad's house from the convenience store. He had an altercation with man who profiled him based on race and followed him around and he chose to confront him and the result was that he was shot. If Zimmerman had been black this case would be open and shut and he would be in prison. I find it disingenuous when people have the gall to say this is not about race. It is all about race. His entire defense is predicated on racial stereotypes. Why did Zimmerman feel in danger? Because it was black kid? Then why get out of your damn car? Nothing the defense said made sense. A white mother will never understand the fear a black mother faces (unless the father is a black man). She must teach her child to bow her head and not antagonize the police so they won't shoot you. She must teach her child now to not walk to the store wearing a hoodie because he might be gunned down by some white supremacist nut. This is not right?

What has the Zimmerman case taught us? That we as black people do not matter. Our children's safety is of no value and that someone can indiscriminately shoot them down and they will get off. Racist all over the world are clapping themselves on the back claiming how justice was served. How was it served? By the weakest prosecution? By making sure to not include charges that Zimmerman could actually be charged with? By waiting for public pressure to mount before they even arrested this man? The defense team was doing their job. They fed on the racism of White America to get this man off. Racism killed Trayvon and racism let Zimmerman walk out of that court a free man.

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