This will likely be the last time I write about this trial. Actually, let me rephrase that. At this moment, I do not envision myself writing about this again. Between Sunday’s post and today, I don’t have anything else to say. But, my feelings may change.
1. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if the races where reversed and Zimmerman was a Black guy who followed, shot, and killed an unarmed White kid in a residential neighborhood, he (Zimmerman) would be in prison today. There is also no doubt that the racial make-up of the jurors made them more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to Zimmerman—someone who looks more like them than Trayvon Martin did.
Does this alone make them—and anyone else who’s more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to someone who looks more like them—racist? I honestly do not think so. At least not consciously. But, while thinking this, I’m reminded of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Fear of a Black President where he states that racism tends to be “…broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others” and I wonder if racism as it’s defined here is more natural than we want to believe. Race-based hate is definitely learned and, if not stemmed, cultivated. From what I understand, though, being more sympathetic towards people who look like you—and more suspicious of people who don’t—is more inherent. I could be wrong (I often am) but I don’t think this is an American thing as much as it’s just a human thing.
Considering all historical context—institutional racism, the existence of White privilege etc—I think that White Americans have to consciously and doggedly work at not being racist. Basically, racism is the default. And, because of this, I don’t consider White racists—well, White racists who don’t consciously attempt or wish ill will on Black people—to automatically be bad people. Just negligently lazy. And, sometimes that negligent laziness leads to people like George Zimmerman walking free.
2. For White Americans who’ve appeared to have made the attempt to not harbor any race-based prejudices, I applaude their efforts and I’m very happy to see that, but I am still very skeptical. Extremely skeptical. Even after reading dozens of passionate pieces penned by Whites heartbroken over the Zimmerman verdict and seeing tens of thousands rallying for Trayvon, I’m still not completely convinced of their buy-in and support, and I’m not sure if anything can be done about that.
Honestly, this sentiment surprises me. I’ve grown up around White people. I’ve had White teammates in high school and college, and I’ve made some close White friends. My favorite teacher was White, as well as my favorite coach. I consider myself to be legitimately open-minded and painstakingly pragmatic. And, I do not find myself consciously uncomfortable or suspicious around them. But, when asking myself if I’m truly, 100% sold when one claims and/or even shows to be “down for the cause” (whatever that means), I have to say no. Even while I believe them on an intellectual level, I don’t feel it emotionally. This is bothersome. It’s especially bothersome when knowing that if a White person I knew and respected said what I just said about Black people, I’d be highly disappointed and perhaps even saddened.
3. Going on a somewhat related (and much lighter) tangent, there is a very small and very vocal population of Black men and women who date “out” and make sure to disparage Black men and women as unworthy in comparison to Whites. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in one of their living rooms right now.
(Question: For those types of Black people, do they not realize that if they have children, they’re still very likely to have a child that’s a member of the hated gender? I mean, what does a woman who’s sworn enemies with Black men do when the son she has with her White husband turns out to be darker-skinned than she is?)
4. I’ve seen the reaction to the Zimmerman verdict compared to the reaction to the O.J. verdict numerous times, including in the comments to the last post. Before continuing, I have to admit it wasn’t until five or six years ago that I realized a considerable number of Black people were actually happy about O.J. getting off. At the time of the verdict, I remember people (my parents especially) being more shocked that someone so apparently guilty was found not guilty than anything else.
Anyway, I don’t know if they realize they’re doing this, but people making that comparison in an effort to twist the knife are actually admitting they believe Zimmerman should have gone to prison. They’re basically saying “Ok, you got to celebrate your guilty-as-hell celebrity defendant who was found innocent, and now we have ours.”
But, it was never really about Zimmerman being “innocent,” was it?
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)