My heart is so heavy. Earlier today, I was listening to the rebroadcast of Friday's Tell Me More and their weekly barbershop segment. Everyone was making their predictions about the verdict. The consensus was that Zimmerman would at the very least be found guilty of manslaughter. Knowing how things actually went down, it was almost too painful to listen to.
From the very beginning, I have felt that George Zimmerman acted on racist impulse and that this whole thing is mired in racism. As I wrote in March of 2012, Zimmerman knew nothing about Trayvon Martin other than what he SAW in that moment. We know that Martin was unarmed and doing literally nothing wrong. We know that Zimmerman shot him point blank in the heart. But even if you can't see the racism in these facts, you should at least be able to see them in this verdict. We apparently value the life of a black teenage boy so lowly, that the man who admits he killed him... will do no time.
Even teens who text and drive and kill someone in a resulting car accident have done SOME time.
Some people have postulated, how would this have gone if Zimmerman was black and Martin was white? It's a valid question and I just don't think you can make the case that the results would be the same. In fact, what stands in greatest contrast to the Zimmerman trial outcome is the case of a black Florida woman, Marissa Alexander, who got 20 years for firing warning shots into the air at her abusive ex.
Read that again. Warning shots at her abusive ex...20 years. I want to puke when I think about it. How can we pretend that we have a "justice" system when this is what's happening?
A quote from bell hooks' "All About Love" has been floating around in the wake of this decision. It is an important quote in general, but especially poignant right now:
White supremacy has taught him that all people of color are threats irrespective of their behavior. Capitalism has taught him that, at all costs, his property can and must be protected. Patriarchy has taught him that his masculinity has to be proved by the willingness to conquer fear through aggression; that it would be unmanly to ask questions before taking action. Mass media then brings us the news of this in a newspeak manner that sounds almost jocular and celebratory, as though no tragedy has happened, as though the sacrifice of a young life was necessary to uphold property values and white patriarchal honor. Viewers are encouraged to feel sympathy for the white male home owner who made a mistake. The fact that this mistake led to the violent death of an innocent young man does not register; the narrative is worded in a manner that encourages viewers to identify with the one who made the mistake by doing what we are led to feel we might all do to “protect our property at all costs from any sense of perceived threat." This is what the worship of death looks like.Trudy at Gradient Lair has an amazing piece up called "The Verdict Of 'Not Valuable' Was Delivered On Black Life. Again." I agree completely that this is what the verdict is saying. And it's what both this case and the anti abortion omnibus bill have in common. (Again, that bill will close the clinics in rural areas that serve almost exclusively women of color and present an undue burden to obtaining abortions for those people specifically. If/when it goes into effect, people WILL die from back alley procedures.)
Everywhere we turn, the measure of a life that matters is whiteness.
I have nothing else to say.
Alex Fraser's Facebook message for Zimmerman
Racialicious' compilation on the subject
Melissa McEwan on the verdict
The Public Shaming blog has a piece up showing the depths of our racist society (content note: racist slurs)
100 Black activists respond to Zimmerman's acquittal
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