I’ll apologize up front for the sensational title, but that’s really the only important aspect of this entire debacle.
The months after Trayvon Martin’s death were, at best, frustrating to anyone at all concerned with race politics in America. By the time we got to a verdict, I don’t think anyone on either side was actually surprised. Plenty of us weren’t because we’re used to the world taking a shit on justice. Zimmerman’s (typically white) supporters saw this coming because they’re used to soaking up and supporting race privilege – and that’s how things play out for them.
Some folks are still totally astounded when the racial aspect of this whole story is brought up. There is a question in their minds about what is racism “really” is. A large part of this stems from people who ignore/don’t understand privilege. This is the camp of people that try to claim that their defense of/ambivalence toward Zimmerman has nothing to do with race.
However, there are still people in this country who admit that the Zimmerman trial was racially charged and are glad Zimmerman walked. They believe that the murder of a black teen isn’t something someone should go to jail for. I don’t mean they play into systemic racism and it’s just intrinsic to their belief structure. I mean there are people that will actually admit they believe that Trayvon Martin’s life is simply not worth as much because of the color of his skin. It’s uppercase White Supremacism.
The divide between those camps is stark. And it’s this divide between White Supremacism and white supremacism that makes people think they can say, “Whoa. I’m not racist. Those guys are racist. I just happen to think affirmative action is bullshit and Black History Month is unfair.”
Consider this my official wake up call to white people who make distinctions about “real racism”: you’re almost certainly racist. And you know what? The gradation of racism isn’t important. No one cares if the Klan is more racist than you; it doesn’t make you less racist. Not only that; while people like Klan members present a very real danger to lots of folks, the systemic racism that we white folks are constantly, casually benefitting from is doing far more damage every day to the lives of millions of people of color in America.
Most people aren’t constantly afraid that their son is going to be shot to death by a Klansman.
The very real fear is that their son will get shot to death and then his murderer will go free – both because of the color of their child’s skin.
That’s what racism does to people’s lives. Pretending that it isn’t going on or that you aren’t benefiting from it? Yes, that makes you racist.
To any Zimmerman supporters that are still telling themselves and anyone who will listen that it’s not about race, it’s just about the facts – fine. Let’s pretend you’re colorblind for a second and see how truly fucked up you are inside.
An unarmed 17-year old boy was shot and killed at close range by a 28-year old man.
Even if there was a serious scuffle, there was never any clear and present danger to Zimmerman’s life.
He didn’t make a mistake. It wasn’t an accident.
He shot a boy in the chest from a few inches away. And then he went to trial. And then he walked.
A boy was killed and his murderer went free.
Shame on anyone who calls that justice.