17.7.13

I am not Trayvon Martin

I've been pretty befuddled by the outcome of the Zimmerman trial. I'm trying not to loose perspective. I get that some people are annoyed with the media saturation the case and the aftermath have both received, but for the people who this verdict concerns directly (and by people I mean people of color) his murder and the upholding of the Stand Your Ground law are matters of personal safety and survival.
I won't insult your intelligence by explaining that further, because you know what your personal survival means to you.
It's a true story to say that I know a lot of white people. Many of them are not as well off as they would like to be. This affords them certain illusions about race and class. You see, lots of white folks in my hometown survive on seasonal work and unemployment. These kinds of white people can be tricked into believing that the fact that they are poor(er), and the fact that their lives are hard, means that they've never been handed anything. You'll hear them say that a lot--I've never been handed anything!  Except the aforementioned unemployment they're ashamed to talk about and the white skin that don't wash off.
You can't blame people for rejecting this reality outright.
White privilege is a blind spot.
99 percent of the time, you can't possibly know you're benefiting from it because skin privilege is invisible. Cops not stopping your car, you not getting carded, not being frisked, people not thinking you're stealing a bike, not getting followed in a store, not getting talked down to when you try to buy things, not getting stared at, not feeling like you wish there was another white person in the room, not feeling like you have to speak for all white people, never getting told you're so articulate like that should be surprising or something, people never touching your hair as though you're their pet because it's so different--all that shit is the water around you that you've always been swimming in. You can't see it. It's normal.  It's the luck that you've made on your own, with no god damn help from nobody.
Here in Mordor, one doesn't simply see the forest for the trees.
So I understand the knee-jerk reaction any person who considers themselves a decent human being would have: You didn't cause this, it shouldn't effect you.
But please look again.
Trayvon was stopped for looking suspicious by a man who was told by the authorities not to pursue him. If somebody came up to me in an unmarked car and started asking me questions, I wouldn't show them the deference I show a cop. LOL, Try that on me sometime if you really want to see  what entitlement looks like. But before you do, ask yourself, why instigate the fight and then escalate it to the point where you believed taking a life was your only choice?

Jurors say that beyond a reasonable doubt Zimmerman feared for his life. His brother says he'll stay afraid for the rest of it. Well you know what, it doesn't make me feel better knowing that he'll always be looking over his shoulder.  It makes me feel sick. It proves to me that guns are too easy to obtain and too final in their judgement. And it teaches us that this law is too ambiguous and needs a slap in the face.

I am not Trayvon Martin but my younger brothers could be mistaken for him. Having a black step father has allowed me to peek through windows of oppression, stepping away unscathed and still white. Being pulled over and frisked. The shame in a grown man's eyes. The fear it puts in me when I look at my younger brothers and in at a world I'll never know the codes for or be able to protect them in. No, I am not Trayvon Martin, but he could have been my brother. And it shouldn't have to be that personal if we really are the decent human beings we thought ourselves to be a few paragraphs ago.

I know not all my readers are white and I know not all my readers need white privilege explained to them. It was not my intention to alienate or exclude anyone with this post. It just made me feel sick inside to go on telling you about my life like I'm Doug Fucking Funny instead of acknowledging that in a country that can make me feel so proud with its cultural diversity and differences--and can feel so idyllic from afar--is still recovering from Slavery.
We are that ugly legacy, America. But we should be so much more.
Swim towards the sunshine, it's time to come up for air.

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