This case was all about race. It is just that juror B-37 and, I would estimate, a good portion of white America honestly believe that it wasn’t. Institutional racism and white privilege are so woven into the fabric of our society that it is invisible to them. But we have to ask: what would have been different if the roles were reversed and it was an armed black man that killed an unarmed white teenager? I am sure it wouldn’t have taken 45 days to arrest him and charge him with a crime.
Honestly, why is it that George Zimmerman is a concerned citizen who was exercising his 2nd amendment rights carrying his 9mm, not a racist, “cop” wannabe who had called 911 forty-eight times over the last several years always complaining about African Americans in the neighborhood: “fucking punks always get away with it!” But when it came out that Trayvon was looking to purchase a similar weapon it was used to prove that “he was a thug” according to local radio host Phil Valentine for one and a myriad of others?
Or Geraldo Rivera who stated that he believed Trayvon was partially to blame “because he was wearing a hoodie, trying to come off like a gangsta”, assuming that all black men in hoodies are gangstas or gang members or, at least, would be criminals meriting surveillance. He couldn’t have just been grabbing a sweatshirt with a hood to run to 7/11 on a cool, rainy, Florida night. No, he was declaring himself an outlaw and white people had a right to fear, and if it came to it, kill him. Somebody should have told him! And reminded him not to even look a white person, especially a white woman, in the eye too. Don’t want to end up like Emmitt Till! No, wait….he did.
And where was the NRA defending Trayvon and proclaiming that if he had been armed he would still be alive? In fact, where were the NRA and the 2nd amendment crowd when Melissa Alexander, a 31 year old African American woman was sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot into the ceiling when her abusive husband came at her with intent to do bodily harm? Or when Trevor Dooley, a 5’6’’, 160lb, 71 year old black man was recently convicted of manslaughter when he shot his white, 6’1’’, 240lb neighbor who was beating and choking him on his property? I guess that in Florida, “Stand Your Ground” and the 2nd Amendment only apply if you are white.
Tavis Smiley posited on “The O’Reilly Factor” “what if all black men decided to arm themselves and exercise their rights? How would America feel about that?” Black folks armed and protesting like the Tea Party? Wait, it already happened albeit years ago. After a prolonged period of police and white on black violence in Oakland against the black community, the Black Panthers exercised their 2nd Amendment rights and armed themselves as an act of defiance and protest on the steps of the state capitol. Governor Ronald Reagan and the Republican legislature immediately called for strict gun control claiming there is no reason someone needs an assault weapon. Huey Newton stated later, I am paraphrasing: They didn’t talk about our rights or mention why we were there. They didn’t see our hot breakfast and lunch programs for neighborhood kids or our after school activities and mentoring programs or the community health clinics, all they saw was niggers with guns!
Things haven’t changed. So we’re back to the future: The New Jim Crow. We have black children shot dead on the streets with no consequences, stop and frisk. a two-tiered justice system that often denies due process, has harsher sentences for the same crime and incarcerates people of color at far higher rates than whites and executes them more frequently. There are two Americas. And in the America for the poor and people of color, apparently only 3/5 of the Bill of Rights applies.