Google+ has always been my favorite alternate social site. I’m not so sure any more. As I sit here considering my son and daughter, both of whom have brown skin and look “other” (non-Anglo), I begin to fear for their lives.
You see, I consider myself black. I always have. Perhaps that’s another blog post entirely, but the George Zimmerman trial (which could have easily been called, the Trayvon Williams trial), has brought “otherness” starkly into the foreground and reinforced my own and my children’s otherness. I fear their they will both have to deal with the intolerance exhibited on Google+ in a way that may even endanger their lives, as Trayvon’s was, simply for being black in the wrong part of town. Even the fact that there is a “wrong” part of town for Trayvon disturbs me. Because there most certainly will be a wrong part of town for my children.
Even though I had followed the Zimmerman trial for the few weeks it was present in the news, I had no idea what the conservative right (in effect, news agencies like Fox News) were postulating about Trayvon and the obvious results of the trial. Trayvon’s possible gay bashing (unverified, thrown out to the public speculatively by Rush Limbaugh), Trayvon’s use of controlled substances (unconfirmed – although he was suspended from school for trace amounts of marijuana in his backpack) and, most incredibly, that Trayvon was in fact stalking George Zimmerman (?!? – also unconfirmed and presented speculatively by conservative media). Who exactly was on trial? Can we excuse murder, much like we excuse rape, because it was the victim’s fault?
Only in this country, and specifically in the South, can a teenager be followed in a car because he is black, accosted harshly for walking in the street at night and walking out of the neighborhood, be subsequently pursued on foot and then seek to defend himself from his pursuer, murdered by that pursuer and finally be accused, post-mortem, that he was stalking his stalker. If the Stand Your Ground law works for Zimmerman, why wouldn’t it work for Trayvon Martin? Instead, Trayvon is painted as the wrong-doer, and admonished for his murder being his own fault. He simply tried to defend himself, and when he unfortunately gained the upper hand, Zimmerman whipped out a gun, murdered a boy who was simply walking home, and claimed that he was defending himself. The Stand Your Ground law allowed the murderer Zimmerman t0 walk out of the courtroom, free.
Look folks, I do not mean to beat a dead horse, but Zimmerman was obviously looking for a fight. He chose to assume that Trayvon was up to no good, simply because he was wearing a hoodie and walking down the street at night. Zimmerman was part of a neighborhood watch. Operative word? Watch. If Zimmerman were doing what he was supposed to do, the police would have been allowed to check it out. Instead the police allowed a vigilante to chase someone walking through the neighborhood. I actually shudder to think what the police may have done to Trayvon, had they responded more quickly to Zimmerman’s call. Trayvon Martin’s body may not have even been recognizable afterward. And for those of you who may be asking why Trayvon did not call the police when he realized he was being followed by a “creepy-ass cracker,” there is your answer.
One of my favorite responses heard from the conservative right was that the media coverage is so out of proportion to the crime. That there are this many thousand of black-on-black crimes every year. Why is it that, instead of addressing the issue at hand, conservatives will immediately result to responses out of context? Sleight of hand. Oh and, by the way conservative media, black on black crime is largely due to institutional racism – closing schools, denying job opportunities, denying the right to vote. Yes, please point to black on black crime. You’re only pointing back at yourselves. If you do not have opportunities to live normally, what choices do you have?
I have increasing anxiety about my children’s future in the US. Think about it. They will be raised as muslims in this country. Strike one. They have brown skin that gets progressively browner during the summer. Strike two. They are independent and ignorant of the fine lines of race in this country. Strike three. Will they be injured, maimed, or murdered simply because of the color of their skin? What lessons will they be forced to learn in order to survive our society?
The final result of Zimmerman’s trial seems to support this idea. Not only was George Zimmerman acquitted, but Trayvon was reviled in an effort to save a vigilante’s life. And where is this really coming from? I have an idea that it comes from a basic fear of losing power. Laws like “Stand Your Ground” are meant to keep a waning white population in power, since they are unevenly enforced, barring people of color from using the same defense.
It is already a recognized fact that white people as a group are slowly shifting toward minority status. This in a country the conservative right have considered exclusively created for their benefit. And their reactionary fear prompts them to hold on to, to conserve, that last shred of their culture to the detriment to the rest of the US. But this cultural change in the US is a juggernaut – it will not stop. Conservatives cannot close our borders with walls to keep gated communities white and free from teenage walkers of questionable ethnic background. Who would do your dishes? Care for your children? Mow your perfectly manicured lawn? Cultivating as many good relationships with those other than their kind would be the smart thing for the conservative right to do, so that understanding and trust can be balanced between the current majority and everyone else.
Do I want my children to grow up in a country that nationally justifies the murder of a child simply because he was black? No, I most certainly do not. Now, like Edward Snowden, I only have a choice between evils. I can no longer take Richard Wright’s route in being an ex-patriot in France, since France has been creating laws against Muslims, as much of Europe is beginning to do. I cannot go to most Islamic states, since I would have similar fears of state corruption and other dangers for my children. If my children are not safe in the US, a country founded on the fundamental rights of all human beings, no matter their color or religion, where will my children be safe to live as a normal, equal human being? When I was young, I truly believed that things would get better – it was my only hope. It appears the US will continue its downward racial spiral.
Google+ illustrates perfectly (in the link below) what a horrible condition our country is in, when POTUS cannot address an issue of national concern without these racist and defensive comments. Most disturbing is that these comments are not “fringe” opinions. If they were then, I could laugh them off. But by the number of “pluses” they received, we can see that many people agree with institutional racism and think that addressing a serious race problem on the national level is “race-baiting.”
I don’t know what the answers are, but I would say that the conservative right should not let the injustice that was the Zimmerman “trial” be the keys to their own destruction. Live up to the ideals of the community that the United States of America is supposed to represent. And then, and only then, will all our children be safe from these kinds of travesties. You can be conservative. Just stop being racist.
I fear the future in a country that lets Zimmerman go free. Within weeks of Trayvon’s murder, yet another Florida man shot and killed a black teen at a gas station, because he didn’t like loud music. Will that man go free, too? Will he be able to “stand his ground,” even though the teen was seated in his car and had no weapons?
The shame of it is, he probably will.
A short addendum. You may recognize that I have used UK publications to support my point. This primarily has to do with my trust of UK news media (in relation to US news media), and the fact that there is less political slant on UK news articles about the US, since there is no benefit to have that slant.
Article that sparked the blog: