Jul 16

george zimmerman

It’s Time to Change the Conversation

It seems like every time I turn on the television, radio, or even open up my home page on the internet, it’s all about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman these days. Even more specifically, I’m finding that a lot of people are taking this tragedy and turning it into a conversation about race relations in America. What would have happened if Trayvon Martin was the one with the gun and Zimmerman was killed while unarmed? Would the verdict have been different? While all of this is great to debate, we keep getting away from the real issue at hand. This case was not about race. This case was about profiling. George Zimmerman profiled a boy dressed like what he thought was a “thug” and took the issue into his own hands.

…the media conveniently made up a new race called
“white-Hispanic” in order for the racial spin to work…

I live in Florida and have followed this case since inception. From the beginning, even though George Zimmerman is a Hispanic man, the media conveniently made up a new race called “white-Hispanic” in order for the racial spin to work. As an African-American woman, mother, and sister, it pains me to see a young black boy gunned down in what was supposed to be a snack run. But not because of who killed him, but why he was killed. As our President said when it happened, if he had a son, he would have been Trayvon Martin. Translation – his “thug” attire is something worn by many young men in America today, especially young black men. I believe that on that dark, rainy night, if that hoodie wearing, Skittles toting boy was a post N’Sync Justin Timberlake, the scenario would have still ended the same. Boy gets followed and confronted by man, boy feels the need to prove that he ain’t no bitch, argument ensues, man realizes boy has a mean scrap game, man takes easy way out.


There are no winners…

The African-American community has erupted in outrage at the verdict, no doubt fueled by the fact that it was passed down by an all white jury (with the exception of the one they couldn’t figure out so they called her “black OR hispanic”). But the conversation behind the verdict needs to be consistent. This man did not decide that black boys were trouble. This man decided that the boy in the hoodie was trouble. The jury decided that the boy in the hoodie was trouble as well. Why the prosecutors didn’t take the time to show any different is baffling to me, but that’s another conversation as well.

What we need to do is discuss why black victims don’t get adequate council unless they are able to pay $500 or more an hour in attorney fees. What we need to do is discuss with our children that profiling exists and if you act like a duck, sound like a duck, walk like a duck, more than likely, they are going to consider you a duck. Give them reasons to feel like something other than flippin’ birds on the corner is cool. Give them better role models. Give them a glimpse of what life can be like outside their hood.

At the end of the day, there are no winners in this situation. We will never know who “started” the fight. But the fact of the matter is, had Trayvon Martin not been profiled, Zimmerman probably would have stayed in the car and waited for the police to come and tell him he’s overreacting. 

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  • PBailey

    The notion that he was profiled because of his clothing rather than the color of his skin seems simplistic and inaccurate given the facts of the case and Zimmerman’s history of calling the police on ‘suspicious’ Black boys, some of who were not wearing hoodies. Hell, Justin Beiber wears hoodies and no one perceives him as a thug – I wonder why? Recently released studies have shown that a Black male is wrongfully murdered by a police officer or vigilante every 28 hours. Pretending this problem is due to the ‘thug’ gear Black men wear seems to be a tactic used by individuals who blame the victims in instances in which those victims are non-White because they are afraid to acknowledge the reality of white supremacy racism. Also, Zimmerman was mixed, which is why the media appropriately called him white-Hispanic. To ignore his white ancestry and call him Hispanic is to give credence to the old, racist Jim Crow one drop rule. Although Zimmerman was mixed, it was clear that he identified with white supremacist ideology that associates Black maleness with immediate danger and criminality.

    • Nia Syrah

      Thanks for reading P, but seriously? Justin Beiber is a little bitch who runs at the sign of any danger, so no.. I don’t know anyone who perceives him as a thug. Yea, black men are murdered wrongfully all the time, but we are not talking about those situations, as they have nothing to do with this one. I could take that notion and say that black men are killed wrongfully all the time at the hands of other black men too, but nobody wants to have that conversation because it doesn’t fit the “that’s racist” cry of those pulling the race card at the drop of a hat. I’m talking about the issue at hand. Yes GZ called the police regularly on black boys in his neighborhood. However, those calls were inadmissible in court based on the fact that they were legitimate calls regarding burglaries in his neighborhood. All 47 calls he made were regarding suspicious people of all races – white, Hispanic, and yes, black. Nobody is pretending race issues don’t exist in the world, but that was not what made him call 911 that night. If people want to discuss race, they need to go after the criminal justice system and how something so tragic can go unpunished. That, my friend, was racially motivated by the prosecution who did absolutely nothing to make the victim relatable to the jury, who did not call any teachers, pastors, friends, etc. to tell the jury how good of a kid he was despite his past and how he reacted. At the end of the day, race did not start this case, but it damn sure ended it…

      • PBailey

        We’re not talking about black men who are murdered wrongfully? That’s hilarious, because most people view the Trayvon Martin murder case as just that. It’s not a case based on ‘fashion profiling’ as you suggest. Your attempt to negate the reality of racial profiling by deferring to black-on-black crime is intellectually and morally dishonest.

        Murder victims are typically victimized by members of their own race. That includes whites as well. So, how does black-on-black murder lessen the moral dilemma associated with a white-Hispanic neighborhood watchman killing a Black kid who was walking home from the store doing nothing to threaten or endanger anyone? How many Black murderers of Black victims walk the streets for 45 days before charges are filed? How many of those Black murderers are acquitted?

        I looked at the transcripts of the calls Zimmerman made, and many of them were plain silly. One was, in fact, a call made about a ‘suspcious’ 9-year-old. Very few of them panned out to anything criminal, and only one of them that I know of, resulted in an arrest. Only two of the 46 calls Zimmerman made involved a non-Black suspect. So don’t exaggerate. Zimmerman was emboldened by the white supremacist belief that young Black males are to be policed, and that his whiteness granted him the authority to do so. He policed his neighborhood zealously living out his fantasy of being a cop. That people support someone so obviously racist and fanatical is astonishing to me.

  • Michael Manning

    David Simon (Creator of The Wire) said it best:

    You can stand your ground if you’re white, and you can use a gun to do it.
    But if you stand your ground with your fists and you’re black, you’re
    dead. In the state of Florida, the season on African-Americans now runs
    year round. Come one, come all. And bring a handgun. The legislators
    are fine with this blood on their hands. The governor, too. One man
    accosted another and when it became a fist fight, one man — and one man only — had a firearm. The rest is racial rationalization and
    dishonorable commentary. (Read the rest here: http://davidsimon.com/trayvon/) of course the baby, racist trolls are all over the commentary.

  • Antonio M. Daniels

    Very good article. Race did play a factor in the “profiling,” though. He saw a Black guy in a black hoodie, looking suspicious (as evidenced by the 911 tape played during the hearing). Race operated very powerfully, yet subtly in this case: an all White jury except one member and Zimmerman’s race and class biases that led him to pursue Martin in the first place.

  • Brian Doguet

    Well written article and appreciate your views. But, it did no more damage than Houston, Texas. The city optioned to expedite the trial of one Mona Nelson. Please write an article that explaining how main stream media race baits. To Stoke the minority communities into well bigotry and hatred towards whites!