Racism and Making Excuses
The world of social media is amazing. Over the last few weeks, there has been a ton of information about Trayvon Martin. Lots of details are emerging. Was he a victim of racial prejudice? A scared kid trying to defend himself? Was he a violent aggressor? I don’t know all the details and nobody will ever know all of them because the victim is dead and he can’t tell his side of the story.
All of this information is playing out in real time and you can find new details about the case emerging by the minute. Here’s what bothers me, though.
There should be no question that Martin’s race was a factor in this situation. He was a black youth out past dark in a predominantly white neighborhood. It doesn’t matter what anyone says to come up with some other “reasonable” justification. Martin is dead because he was black.
A white boy would not have been confronted. A white boy would still be alive right now and none of us would know his name.
The issue has become national news because a young man is dead and he shouldn’t be. We can argue about what really happened as if we were really there but the young man in question was not carrying a weapon and if he had been left alone to walk home, he would be alive. Did he attack George Zimmerman? Maybe. Did George Zimmerman follow him and scare the crap out of him to the point that he felt his only recourse was to fight back? Maybe.
But George Zimmerman would not have followed him if he’d been white.
The problem arises when people look at this situation and decide that what is really racist is how we are all talking about the Trayvon Martin case when there is all sorts of black on white crime happening that we never hear about.
So today, I see information about this case plastered all over Facebook as conservative backlash. They say “hey – look at these two white kids who were brutally murdered! Why do we hear about Trayvon Martin and not them?”
Well, for one thing, they were murdered five years ago. For another, the people responsible for the murder were caught, tried and convicted.
That is how the system is supposed to work. Violent crime happens all the time in this country. Not just white on black or black on white crime but white on white, black on black, hispanic on asian, etc. Most of it doesn’t make national news because there is just too much of it. We hear about the weird ones. The controversial ones. The Jeffrey Dahmer’s make national news. Random acts of violence frequently don’t.
Call me crazy but I’m actually OK with that.
The presumption here is that there is some sort of conspiracy to avoid reporting about black on white crime and the people who are really racist are the ones who are ignoring this other case (which happened five years ago) in favor of the Trayvon Martin case.
It is the most self-centered whining imaginable. Look at how these poor white kids were victimized by these terrible black people. All you care about is Trayvon Martin even though he was probably doing something wrong. You racist!
Let me be really clear about this these two things have nothing to do with one another.
Comparing these two cases is so completely illogical, mounting any sort of counter argument is a waste of time. Anyone who uses the one as a way to get pissed off about the other could not possibly understand the degree to which their reasoning is fucked up.
How about this? We stop defending the dude who claims self defense when, no matter what eventually happened, it seems entirely likely that he would not have had to defend himself if he’d just stayed out of the situation. He was told to stay out of the situation and it seems pretty clear that he didn’t.
Even if he goes free, he bears a responsibility for Martin’s death that goes beyond simply thinking he was in physical danger. He went looking to put himself in danger.
Then, let’s stop using this as a springboard to bitch that the media ignores white on black crime because that isn’t the issue here.
We are so good at this BS. Men get told that they are behaving in a sexist fashion and they immediately respond by saying that women are the sexist ones. Gay rights supporters denounce homophobes and the homophobes say that the gay people are just trying to further their anti straight person “agenda.”
A young man dies at least in part because he was black and the response is “hey look! Black people kill white people too!”
So…what, exactly? That makes it OK?
Excellent essay. Attempting to ignore or reverse the racial bias angle is ridiculous.
I found the welter of articles and overlapping/contradictory information was too much, so I ended up trying to write an omnibus article that collected all the data so I could even begin to understand it (http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/03/29/why-hasnt-george-zimmerman-been-arrested/).
We won’t know all the facts until the Justice Department and FBI are through. But it does not look good for Zimmerman with the information that’s out there now.