The Trial of Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin shooting

Trayvon Martin shooting (Photo credit: ChrisWaldeck)

I know my choice of title for this post does not make me particularly clever. Progressive blogs have been abuzz for over a year now how the right-wing blogosphere and even the MSM have focused far more attention on the behavior, most of it simple teenage posturing common in all races, of George Zimmerman’s victim than on the man himself. We have written ad naseaum how the narrative has been pulled away from the automatic criminalization of a young man just walking home from the store by a racist fool to the idea that this wannabe action hero had every right to feel threatened. Even liberals have let the talk become about the extent and nature of Georgie Boy’s injuries, and not the fact that he would never been in the situation had he not been breaking the law to begin with.

Make no mistake, our Rambo in an SUV was breaking the law. Stalking is against the law in Florida, and once Zimmerman decided to continue to follow Trayvon after being instructed not to he was guilty of just that. Once he got out of his car, despite instructions not to, he was guilty of harassment. George Zimmerman was a criminal from the moment he set foot out of his vehicle, and a little before that really, and was engaged in unlawful behavior when he “felt threatened” enough to pull his firearm. The fact that he was so engaged should be enough to end all discussion. The prosecution should have called only one witness for the trial: the dispatcher in contact with Zimmerman that night. Case closed, enjoy your stay in prison Mr. Racist Sociopath.

They did not however. They trotted out cops who sang the praises of how cordial poor Mr. Zimmerman was when they arrived on the seen, how calm he was. They grilled Trayvon’s poor best friend, making fun of her as they questioned her. Keep in mind this is not the defense, this is the prosecution. I would say they have forgotten who the accused is, but it is painfully obvious they have their own ideas. No surprise considering we are talking about the same people who let a young man’s body sit in a morgue for three days with is parents wondering where their son was. No surprise, given that they took months to charge George, and even then, only did so when a harsh spot light was shone on  them. I am sure part of their seemingly deliberate bungling of this case has to do with wanting to exonerate this man so they are absolved of their lack of vigilance in the first place.

It goes deeper, however, than just covering their asses. These middle-aged white men have a lot hanging on this trial. Decades of othering PoC in general, and young MoC in particular is being questioned here. Not as vigorously as it should. Mostly it is those of us who have been calling it out for a long time, but new voices are being added to the mix, and the purveyors of privilege cannot have that. No, Trayvon Martin, a young man who will never reach his potential, whatever that potential was, is not the only one on trial here. Black America is on trial. Men, and women, of color, are being dragged through the streets, again, every little detail of their lives, and culture, examined for White America to tut about.  “Look at how Travon dressed”, “look at his Facebook page”, “listen to how Rachel Jeantel speaks,” and the list goes on of all the little excuses we make.

White America wipes the greasy stains of their prejudices and smug superiority across the mirror of their actions. They keep the view murky because then they do not have to take an honest look in that mirror. They put just being black on trial, to put off just a while more the long overdue verdict of their privileged position in our society. Anything that threatens to bring on that decision is too painful, embarrassing, and most of all, frightening to bear. We need to do it though, we need to start remembering what this trial is really about. There is an opportunity here, born out of the blood and pain of Trayvon’s family’s loss, to be honest with ourselves, to really get the ball moving toward actual racial equality in this country, and toward a truly unified community. Before we do that though, we have to remember who the accused really is in this trial, and we have to end our willingness to make our differences an excuse to murder.

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