Trayvon Martin

Though overt racism is no longer condoned in American society, it has been demonstrated that implicit or unconscious racism is still at work today. Whether known to the individual or not, racist beliefs and attitudes could greatly affect one’s behavior toward a member of another race. The case of Trayvon Martin screams explicit racism with a capital “E” letting me know that explicit/overt racism is alive and well in American society. A young black man is shot dead because he was in a hoodie and in a gated community. The shooter has yet to be brought to justice. The father of the shooter ( who is white), wrote a letter stating that his son George Zimmerman is not racist because he is Hispanic and grew up in a multicultural family. This leads me to the readings I have done on a different kind of racism, that kind of racism is horizontal racism. Horizontal racism is defined as the results of people of targeted racial groups (Blacks, Latinos/Hispanics, Asians, Native) believing, acting on or enforcing the dominant (White) system of racist discrimination and oppression. Horizontal racism can occur between members of the same racial group or between members of different, targeted racial groups. Why then can we suppose that the Florida authorities are not charging Mr. Zimmerman with murder? He clearly has an extensive history of targeting blacks. A news article stated “At the very least, a series of 46 emergency calls made by Zimmerman over the past six years document a man vigilant about keeping his neighborhood safe and orderly. The calls include complaints about unruly people at the pool, potholes, dumped trash, and kids playing in the street. In recent months, as the neighborhood saw an uptick in crime, including burglaries and a shooting, Zimmerman’s calls had focused on specific suspects, the majority of them young black men

This leads me to several questions:

  1. Would the outcome be different is the shooter was a black man that shot a teenage white male in a hoodie holding a bag of skittles?
  2. Would the “stand your ground law” be so freely applied to a black male of biracial decent shooting a white teen?
  3. Would there have been any press at all if this was a black on black crime?
  4. Is there some privilege being extended because George Zimmerman’s father is white?
  5. What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Trayvon Martin”

  1. Dan,
    I think in some ways we are making progress, however, I read this article and was acutley aware of just how little:
    I can recommend a completely wonderful article in by Touré– How to Talk to Young Black Boys About Trayvon Martin. His suggestions are wise, specific, and quite frankly, break my heart.

    1. It’s unlikely but possible that you could get killed today. Or any day. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. Black maleness is a potentially fatal condition. I tell you that not to scare you but because knowing that could save your life. There are people who will look at you and see a villain or a criminal or something fearsome.

    2. If you encounter such a situation, you need to play it cool. Keep your wits about you. Don’t worry about winning the situation. Your mission is to survive….

    3. There is nothing wrong with you. You’re amazing. I love you. When I look at you, I see a complex human being with awesome potential, but some others will look at you and see a thug — even if their only evidence is your skin. Their racism relates to larger anxieties and problems in America that you didn’t create. …

    4. You will have to make allowances for other people’s racism. That’s part of the burden of being black. We can be defiant and dead or smart and alive. I’m not saying you can’t wear what you want, but your clothes are a red herring. They’ll blame it on your hoodie or your jeans when the real reason they decided you were a criminal is that you’re black….

    5. Be aware of your surroundings. Especially when it’s dark. Or bright. Some people are on the lookout for muggers or rapists. You need to be on the lookout for profilers who are judging you. Don’t give them an opportunity to make a mistake.

    6. If you feel you are being profiled and followed or, worse, chased by someone with a vigilante streak — if you are hunted in the way it seems Trayvon was, by someone bigger than you who may be armed and hopped up on stereotypes about you — then you need to act. By calling the police….

    7. What if it’s the cops who are making you feel threatened? Well, then you need to retreat. I don’t mean run away. I mean don’t resist. Now is not the time to fight the power. Make sure they can see your hands, follow all instructions, don’t say anything, keep your cool. …

    8. Never forget: As far as we can tell, Trayvon did nothing wrong and still lost his life. You could be a Trayvon.

  2. What’s really interesting about this is that a lot of the press this crime is receiving seems to be because the crime happened to be a white on black crime. Although the fact that Zimmerman is still free seems to be a product of his whiteness, the widespread hatred of Zimmerman’s acts seems to also be a product of his whiteness.

    The Travyon Martin case is a tragedy of overt racism, but could it not be argued that the popular reaction (at least in this area) to the tragedy may be a positive representation of the non-acceptance of overt racism? Maybe I’m way off, but it seems that at least some people are moving in the right direction?

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