March 26, 2012
Almost inevitably there are two sides to every issue. The Trayvon Martin killing is no different. While I am not sympathetic to Zimmerman, as he could have more easily avoided the situation than escalate it, there is a deep resentment in me towards the “professional racists” (to use Vox’s phrase) who opportunistically exploit the death of a black teen.
With knowing hardly anything about Trayvon, professional racists, Obama included, started talking about how the stereotypes of Trayvon were all wrong. Just because a black teenager walks around with a hood up does not mean he is a thug. In fact, we were told, he was just an ordinary, harmless black male who fell victim to racism. He was a sweet child who was so beautiful and loving that he could be easily mistaken for the president’s son. Zimmerman was so blinded by racism and judging from bad stereotypes that he took the life from this shining exemplar of black maleness.
“With a single punch,” the Orlando Sentinel, citing police sources, reported Monday, “Trayvon Martin decked the Neighborhood Watch volunteer … climbed on top of [him] and slammed his head into the sidewalk several times, leaving him bloody and battered.”
“That is the account Zimmerman gave police,” the paper said, “and much of it has been corroborated by witnesses, authorities say.”
Zimmerman’s attorney, Craig Sonner, says that Zimmerman acted in self-defense and is not a racist as some have portrayed him.
“I think we need to let the investigation come forward and let all the facts in this case come out,” Sonner said on the “Today” show. “I think it’s going to tell a different story than the way it’s been related and portrayed in the media.”
As Dan Linehan, a blogger at Wagist.com, pointed out, correspondence with Martin on Twitter before he died alludes to an incident with a bus driver. “Yu ain’t tell me you swung on a bus driver,” Martin’s cousin wrote to him on Feb. 21.
The same week, Martin was suspended for 10 days from Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School in North Miami-Dade. “He was not suspended for something dealing with violence or anything like that,” his father said. “It wasn’t a crime he committed, but he was in an unauthorized area [on school property],” declining to offer more details.
But a family spokesman told the Associated Press on Monday that Martin was suspended because marijuana residue was found in his book bag.
Suddenly we find out why Zimmerman wasn’t arrested: because witnesses verified his story, not because the police were racist. (However, I do not think a final judgment can be made about his guilt or his actions. That remains to be seen in due time. We can note that the police were not acting racistly, and it’s quite possible that Mr. Zimmerman was also not acting out of racial hate.) As usual, there are two sides to this story.
Another main point is to be made about professional racists. Without knowing anything about Trayvon, they made statements purporting him to be just like any untroubled child. This they said only because they shared the same skin color. This is racism at its most obvious–when people take a side based on the one known fact of race. However, it seems almost every stereotype that the professional racists told us to reject is pretty accurate. He appeared to be prone to violence (swinging at a bus driver), involved with drugs (possibly even had gang ties), and had no presenting himself according to a stereotype. Not exactly the angel race hustlers made him out to be.
This is not to say that Zimmerman did the right thing by any stretch of the imagination, or that Martin did the wrong thing. I simply want to note that there are two sides to the story. And that those crying foul are racist for assuming that Trayvon was some role model and not a thug in infancy, or just somewhere in between searching for what he wanted to be in life. And that those in the media and public arena exploiting an unnecessary, personal death to score some political points by pandering to racial sentiments are evil and heartless.