I wish I could say I was broken-hearted, but it wouldn’t be honest. I would be broken-hearted if I was 20, and still sort of innocent. I’m 33 and I have learned that this is the most I can expect from life. I am resigned.
It’s a terrible secret that you can’t share with most people, but being black in America is like carrying a terrible weight in your heart all the time. As Paul Mooney once said brilliantly, it’s like being the boogeyman. And one of the worst things about it is that you can’t talk to most people about how you really feel, because of three basic reasons. And those reasons came up when George Zimmerman walked free.
I knew he would.
Florida is one of those states that consistently shows a sort of terminal Southern thick-headed obstinacy, and is quite proud of it. Often people think of the beach when they think of Florida, but that’s just towards the bottom. Florida is a swamp, filled with retirees and people exiled from Georgia, still smarting from the Civil War, still unwilling to lay down the cudgel. It’s populated by a great deal of people who hate the government and all Federal interference, until the latest hurricane hits and then help can’t come fast enough.
Inside of that swamp is the town of the Sanford, the place where Jackie Robinson fled to escape being lynched, and where the police chief walked onto the field to keep him from playing. It’s nestled in Seminole County and continues the grand tradition of slaughtering Native Americans and naming things after them.
George Zimmerman is a child murderer. There are three types of people that don’t get this, and that’s what this article is about… and why I hate talking about race.
1. The Misinformed
This is a pretty legit reason. We live in the Information Age, it’s just that most of the information is wrong. There are a lot of opinions, but not many facts and even fewer sources. And in the last few years, a lot of corporations and think tanks have created organizations designed to spew corrupted facts to an innocent populace, and those get circulated a lot, regardless of context.
The most virulent source of misinformation I’ve found is Fox News. Just being real. And the most watched ‘news’ network? Fox News. So it’s no wonder that there’s so many people that don’t know the truth about this case. Even if you don’t watch Fox, you might be getting an email from someone who does, and got some of the facts wrong, and how much time do you have to spend on Snopes.com, after all?
Here are the facts. Anything else you heard is a lie, a rumor or a combination thereof.
George Zimmerman was the son of a retired magistrate. He was a workplace bully, and had already gotten in trouble for violence to his girlfriend and assaulting a police officer. He got on the bad side of the cops he rode with in in 12 hours. (But oddly the Orlando Sentinel thought he was great!)
He was not a member of Neighborhood Watch, no matter how many times lazy reporters say it. He did an unofficial sort of ride around, but Neighborhood Watch works in twos, doesn’t carry weapons, and is an actual designation.
We know what happened next. He saw someone he didn’t recognize. Trayvon was wearing a hoodie, but the media rarely mentions that it was raining at the time. Curious.
Zimmerman stalked him with a Kel Tec 9, a easily concealable gun with no safety and a hair trigger. His defense is that despite a size and training advantage, he was overpowered by a 158lb teenager that somehow became feral at the last moment.
Sgt. Anthony Raimondo, the same policeman that arrested George Zimmerman had already been involved in the previous year’s scandal where a lieutenant’s son attacked a homeless man and the department tried to cover it up was the first cop on the scene. The first responding officer shapes the entire investigation. Shortly, George Zimmerman was taken to the police station and quickly released.
He was taken to the station but released after a few hours.
The parents were not told that Travyon’s body was in the morgue for hours. This is very significant, because most crimes are solved by the information collected in the first 24 hours. This was not an accident.
The witnesses were not interviewed. This was not an accident.
It was 44 days before Zimmerman was ever arrested. He received bail, and then it was found that he lied about his money and having a second passport.
He was granted bail again.
There was a laughable trial by a half-hearted prosecutor in front of idiotic jurors. The prime witness struggled on the stand, although no one knew that English is her second language, explaining her discomfort. They spun wheels arguing whose screams had been recorded on tape. They obfuscated something that quite clear.
Zimmerman was acquitted. The last image we will probably have of him is relieved, smiling, surrounded by his defense team, safe and secure in his home town. They really came through for him.
Some of those people are category 2 –
2. The Hopelessly Stupid
One characteristic that dull people seem to share is an utter lack of empathy. Trayvon was not sympathetic because they couldn’t imagine the situation. And so they do things like victim blaming, because obviously wearing a hoodie is what got Trayvon killed. Or maybe it was the weed, with a boomer generation that seems indifferent to marijuana use and a younger generation that wants to legalize, somehow this rationalizes gunning down a teenager. If only he hadn’t been a thug, or a potential thug.
Well, look at him. There is his dead body. Those appear to be khakis, and a neat, clean hoodie. There are those clean, childish cheeks, and gangly frame. Does that look like a thug to you?
Even black people have began to chime in, trying to de-legitimize this incident by comparing it to the shootings in Chicago for instance. But that standard could be applied to trivialize any issue. Oh, so your brother was shot and killed? Why focus on it? There are killings in Chicago, after all.
The main overlap between catagories 2 and 3 is their inability to absorb new information that doesn’t fit in with their worldview.
3. The Racists
Racism is easier to find then you think, because it is utterly illogical. According to racists, Zimmerman had every right to get in his car, looking for trouble with a gun. After the fight he initiated, despite the police telling him not to, it was self defense for him to kill a small, minor child. It was NOT self defense for Trayvon to raise his hand to the armed stranger who had been following him for blocks at night.
Zimmerman is free now, and it would wrong to describe this as a travesty of justice. After all, a court of law found him innocent right? Just like OJ, right? Right?
Tom mentioned Marissa Alexander, an abused wife in Florida with no criminal records fired a warning shot into a wall to keep her husband from attacking her. She got 20 years, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. She was not allowed to use the ‘Stand Your Ground Law,’ because the judge said she could have simply run out of the back door, but choose to stay in the house. The prosecutor was Angela Corey, the same prosecutor that went after George Zimmerman. So what happened?
In Florida, The Tampa Bay Times found that 73% of people who kill a black person and evoke the ‘Stand Your Ground Law’ walk free. When you’re black, you don’t get any ground to stand on.
And so gun nuts everywhere can rejoice. Their lobby held firm and they are free to hunt minorities legally, which is all they ever wanted to do. In Jacksonville Michael Dunn killed 17year old Jordan Davis for playing his radio too loud. He said he thought he saw in a gun in Davis’s car. He will claim ‘Stand Your Ground.’ He will win. It is Florida after all.
And that’s all there is. There is no point in conversation anymore, because there is no actual exchange of ideas between people anymore. The sort of person that reads this article is the sort of person that’s inclined to agree me, which is preaching to the choir. The sort of person that falls into one of these three categories doesn’t solicit other opinions, and so they’ll never come across this.
And so there’s no point. Nothing that Tom or I do really matters.
They won’t change in Sanford. They can’t. That why racism persists and why it always will. It’s the fear of change, the idea that if things are different, maybe you won’t have what it takes to be on top anymore. It’s an insecurity that never goes away.
And then the times change and leave you behind anyway. You find yourself surrounded by people and circumstances that grow more perplexing every day. And then you’re utterly and completely irrelevant. But it’s very gradual, and not very satisfying. Its slow.
For now I have the knowledge that Trayvon Martin was gunned down in the street like a stray dog. The picture isn’t clear, but the expression on his face looks like pure terror. I can see his parents sitting rigidly in their chairs as they heard that their son’s killer would walk, after the torment of hearing and seeing his death explicitly in the previous days. They have to live the knowledge that they were betrayed by their own community, which as it turns out, they didn’t actually belong to.
Actually, its not knowledge. It’s a weight.