2013-07-17

If Trayvon Was White

If Trayvon Martin identified as white and George Zimmerman was black, this case would be seen so differently by so many.   If Trayvon was white, he would have been heralded as brave, taking a stand to fight off the armed man who was following him.  He would have been a symbol for taking a stance for what is right.  The media would have mentioned his lack of criminal history, they would have considered him a normal, everyday teen, a little mischievous, but a great kid with a promising future. We would have mourned his lack of opportunity to live out his future. The police would have done a thorough investigation, so that his parents would have had their questions and concerns answered, so even if it turned out it was an accident, they could lay their heads down at night knowing that there was no fault to their son's death.  

If Zimmerman was black, he would have been the thug. His criminal history would have been mentioned several times.  His views on other races mentioned repeatedly.  His list of calls to 911, seen as wasting tax payers resources and time noted, over and over again.  He would have been seen as a menace to society, a person who should have never ever had a gun.   He would have been seen a murderer and been sentenced to prison time. 

Alas, this is America, this is not how these people were portrayed.  Trayvon Martin was noted as thug. Trayvon Martin was the aggressor, even though George Zimmerman was following him with a gun. George Zimmerman was treated as a hero and a champion of gun rights. George Zimmerman is a free man and Trayvon Martin is dead. Trayvon's crime was walking while black.  His crime was noticing an armed man following him and being alarmed.  His crime was questioning the authority of someone lighter than him.   In America, being a vigilante if you're white or identify as such, is seen as a great thing, if you are black and do the same thing, you're a troublemaker intent on killing someone.   Zimmerman is seen as the hero for getting rid of a thug....with no proof of Martin being a thug.  Martin is accused of attacking Zimmerman, the armed man following behind him as he came home from a convenience store. We praise vigilantism when a white person does it, and gasp at the concept a young, unarmed black man thinks he can too.  

As people celebrate the death and murder of a seventeen year old boy, many of us are angry.  We're angry at the death of this boy, we're angry the a dead child was put on trial, we're angry about racism, but for a lot of us, we're angry because we're going to have to have the same talks our parents had with us about racism.  About the unwritten rules that don't apply to other kids.  We have to be extra careful to look like we're not stealing.  We have to have quick answers to questions about our existence to white people of no authority, no matter what.  There are severe consequences to our insignificant actions.  We have to tell our kids that their lives are no value to most white Americans.   That is what I'm angry about, that I have to balance making sure my child is worthy with the concept that other people don't deem her as worthy as themselves because her skin is a darker hue.  It doesn't make sense, and she won't get it, until it happens to her. Unfortunately, it's going to happen to her.