The Trayvon Martin Race Trap

Here are the basic facts of the Trayvon Martin case, as we know them today.

Seventeen year old Trayvon Martin was walking back from the store through a neighborhood that has had a number of burglaries. The Hispanic neighborhood watch captain, 28 year old George Zimmerman, thought he looked suspicious. Zimmerman called the police to report Martin’s presence and the police told him not to follow Martin — but he did anyway. Apparently, Martin got creeped out because Zimmerman was following him and ran. Martin pursued him. According to someone Martin was talking to on his cell phone, Martin asked Zimmerman why he was following him and Zimmerman asked why he was in that neighborhood. At that point, Zimmerman claims he was attacked by Martin and he responded by shooting and killing him. There don’t appear to be any eyewitnesses to the crime and so far, Zimmerman hasn’t been arrested. There was a preliminary investigation (that) indicated no crime was committed under Florida law, but that being said, the case probably will go before a Grand Jury and it’s still very possible Zimmerman may have to go to trial for what he did.

I think that’s appropriate. The situation, even as Zimmerman describes it, makes him sound like an overzealous neighborhood watch captain who scared the living hell out of Martin and gave him good reason to be deeply concerned about his safety. So, even if Martin did attack Zimmerman, he had reason to do so. Zimmerman, who then created the entire situation with his reckless behavior, shot Martin to death.

This has been played up as a racist incident, in part because Zimmerman was initially misindentified as white and there have been fictional claims that Zimmerman used a racial epithet. In fact, Zimmerman is Hispanic and there were no racial epithets used. Additionally, there’s no way to know whether Zimmerman would have behaved similarly with a white kid wearing a hoodie.

(On a side note, I had this exact same sort of thing happen to me once. I was walking my dog through a local area just as it started to get dark. It was an area I had walked through dozens and dozens of times before — except this time, an old man decided to follow me in his car. The same car kept showing up behind me, passing, and circling around behind me for a good 3/4 of a mile. Eventually, as I stood well off the side of the road and stared at him as he drove past me, the guy rolled down his window and demanded to know who I was and where I lived. I told him to get away from me. When he kept following me even after that, I cursed him out, picked up a rock the size of my fist and told him that if he kept following me, I was going to smash his car window with it. I wasn’t armed, I had no idea if he was, and I had no idea what his intentions were; so I stayed well clear of the car so I could break for cover if he pulled out a gun. But, I can tell you that if the guy had gotten out and come over to me like Zimmerman apparently did to Martin, my reaction would have been EXTREMELY violent because the guy’s behavior seemed loony to me and my thinking was, “If he makes it him or me, it’s DEFINITELY going to be him.”

During the middle of this, a couple of neighbors drove by, told him I walked through there all the time and suggested he go home. Eventually Senile McSherlock decided to stop following me and he did go home. And that was that.

This weird, sad incident with Trayvon Martin has gotten a lot of attention despite the fact that roughly 7,000 black men are murdered a year and 93% of the time, their killers are other black Americans. That’s partially because professional race hustlers like Al Sharpton and the NAACP need to constantly shout “racism” to make a living and it’s partly because of the sad way black Americans are falsely indoctrinated with the idea that most white people hate them because they’re black.

If you want to see a great example of the latter mentality, you can go to a website called the Black Snob that has up an article called, “No Apologies: On The Killing Of Trayvon Martin And Being ‘Good’.” Basically, the author manages to tie Trayvon Martin’s death into a narrative that spans her entire life and I felt honest-to-goodness, genuine pity for her and the tens of millions of people who’ve been brainwashed in the same way as I read her piece.

In the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin, there’s no safe place. There’s no real excuse to cling to. None of the usual dismissals work or fit. It’s just bad. Real bad. And sits there and stares at you with it’s cruelty and unfairness and ugliness and says, “Take this.”

Take this load. And pick it up.

Just take it. And accept it. And choke back the lumps in your throat. As it has happened before. And it will happen again. And again you will be told to “take this.”

Take this burden and just accept it as your burden. It’s just “how it is.” You’re all statistics. Take these statistics. And black people get shot everywhere everyday by everyone. Police. Non-police. Crazy people. Bigots. Their parents. Other kids. Just take it. It’s part of your Life In America, Black People. Accept this tragedy and go through the motions of appealing to people’s decency and demanding justice and having protests and press conferences and crying and asking why and demanding answers and then eventually getting that bad dead cold thing that just sits there and says, “Take this.”

It’s easy to understand black Americans getting upset about living in violent neighborhoods, but it’s not some racist plot. It’s mostly black gang members shooting at other black gang members and whomever gets in their way. I think that’s tragic, but the fix for it is more police in those neighborhoods, harsher jail sentences, more “snitching,” less tolerance of drug dealers and gangbangers in black America, and more kids being raised in two parent families. Unfortunately, it’s unpopular to say that and those are tough things to fix. It’s a lot simpler to just throw up your hands and cry “racism!” It doesn’t ever solve anything, but it’s easier and more comfortable; so people do it.

A long, long time ago when I was young my parents told me I had to be the best to make it in this world. Averageness was something only the white and the male could afford and as a black woman, I was neither.

I think it’s a good idea to push your kids to be their best, but I don’t know why anyone would think average white males get handed the world on a silver platter. I know liberals love to talk about “white privilege” and how easy white people have it — but, I don’t see it and honestly, I don’t think most people see it. Maybe 50 years ago, sure, but not in my lifetime have I ever had a job or a profession where it was an advantage to be white. In every job I ever had in my life, poorly performing black workers were less likely to be fired than similarly performing white workers and high performing black workers were more likely to be promoted over a white worker of similar skills.

This is no secret. Once when I was younger and didn’t understand how the world worked as well, I asked a boss why he just didn’t fire a black employee at our company who constantly showed up late — when she showed up at all. I noted that I thought he’d fire me if I did the same thing. He told me that was true, but said she was black, and before you could fire someone who’s black, you had to have a long paper trail. I didn’t make a big deal of it then or now, but it’s worth noting because I haven’t ever seen any actual evidence in my life that black Americans have it tougher on the job or in life in general, than white people in the same situation. If anything, when it comes to getting into a university or on the job, being black seems to be a big advantage.

In fact, the whole idea reminds me of a classic Eddie Murphy skit from Saturday Night Live.

I promise you; this isn’t actually how the world works. Nobody gives you a free ride because you’re white.

That same year, the eighth grade, my history teacher moved my seat in the front of the class to the back with a pair of boys who harassed me, teased me and made trouble with me every day. Then, because I’m near-sighted, my vision worsened and I needed new glasses. I couldn’t read the blackboard. I told my teacher of both, the harassment and the inability to see.

He, oddly, agreed I was being harassed, but thought I was “weak” to complain. As for my inability to see, he told me I was lying.

Even though I wore glasses. We got a doctor’s note from my optometrist that I needed new glasses and should sit up front until they were ready.

The teacher suddenly decided everyone in the class could sit where ever they wanted.

He never apologized.

My mother, far more blunt than I, called it what it was. I was black. My teachers were white. The school was mostly white. It was racism. Even though all my teachers, even the jerk ones, thought I was a bright and talented student who was polite and respectful. They would lose my extra credit homework on purpose rather than add it towards my grade, lest I test higher than whoever they would always hope would beat me when the boys would play the girls in History Bingo.

Here’s an alternate theory: maybe your teacher was just a creep. Maybe someone just lost your extra credit homework rather than trying to screw up “History Bingo” for you or whatever. I once had a teacher take POINTS OFF of my test because he didn’t like my extra credit answer. He didn’t apologize either and happily, I didn’t spend time brooding at home, thinking about how racist the world is because of it. Everything isn’t race. In fact, for most white people who aren’t 80 years old, very little is race. They don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, paying attention to it, or plotting how they want to screw you over in “History Bingo” because you’re black.

That if we’re just “good” we’ll be safe. If your son doesn’t listen to hip hop, goes to the church camp, gets A’s and Bs in school, is polite, says “sir” and “ma’am,” if he’s a good kid, he’ll be safe. That’s the bargain black parents make with their children.

If you are “good” the gangs and the violence and the racism won’t get you. You will be safe. You will live to see 25. You will have a great life. Opportunity will abound for you. We will be proud of you. The community will be proud of you. You will be Barack Obama and Michelle Obama and life will be beautiful if you just want it enough.

Just be “good.” Be good, Trayvon Martin. Stay in school. Listen to your parents. And you’ll be safe.

But that’s a lie. No one came make you safe. No one can save you for that day some sick person just decides you’re the bad guy because you’re black and carrying a bottle of ice tea and some Skittles and he self-appointed himself neighborhood watch and some black teenage boys aren’t good, therefore ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE NOT GOOD. And you are a black person. And you’re a boy. And you had on a “hooded sweatshirt.” So, you’re dead now.

You lose.

This is the same thing all kids are taught. That’s the message of every fairy tale. Virtue is rewarded. Bad guys may be stronger, but they eventually fail because goodness is somehow, someway, inherently stronger. It doesn’t always work out that way in the real world. In the real world, sometimes bad things happen to good people — including white people. I really promise you, random bad things happen to white people, too. Really, they do. Not every bad thing that happens to non-white people is a result of racism. Sometimes, life being life,doesn’t go all that well.

If you have a child, what do you tell them? Especially him. What do you tell him? How do you tell him as his mother or his father or his grandmother or grandfather that you, the person he loves and trusts and believes in more than anyone in the world, that you can keep him safe? How does he believe you now? He knows you’re full of shit now. He’s on Facebook. He’s heard and read about Trayvon. Someone who looked like him. Someone who was “good.” How do you tell him that if he just stays in school and is “good” it will be OK? How do you tell him to handle something like this?

When you get older, you realize Santa Claus doesn’t exist, goodness isn’t always rewarded, and you’re not invulnerable. It’s part of life. Why is this even supposed to be a black thing as opposed to a “growing up” thing?

The impetus is not on the kid walking home from the 7-11. But on the self-proclaimed, gun-wielding, one-man-neighborhood watch, calling the Sanford Police more than 40 times in the last year. It is not Trayvon’s job, or your job or my job to make bigots feel more comfortable with us because there is no way to get their comfort. It is a lie.

I’ve already said that I think George Zimmerman should be put on trial for what he did, and maybe he will turn out to be a bigot, but we don’t know that yet and the people who see him as a bigot, probably see bigots everywhere. They’re the school teachers, the cops, their boss, the guy serving them dinner, etc., etc. It’s a filter that warps and ruins their world because it makes them into victims and gives them a completely false picture of the world. How hard life must be when your own mind sees so many enemies where they don’t exist.

A woman, much older than I, who I’ve known most of my life, used to say “I feel like my purpose in life is to make white people mad.” I used to think that what she said sounded really silly. She was born under Jim Crow (hence her tendency to talk of white people as if they’re monolithic) and was a long-time housewife. All she’d ever done was marry a nice guy and have lovely children. She’d lived a quiet, sweet sort of life, isolated from most of the drama anyone — white or black — ever has to deal with. I thought the statement was awkward and short-sighted and weird. I would smirk and brush it off. What the hell was that supposed to mean? You’re not Angela Davis, I’d think. No one is shaking in their boots at night, worried about the fur coat wearing black housewives of Florissant, Mo.

Then, in a conversation with a friend of mine, Dr. Jason Johnson, I told him of what she said and he actually argued my pampered housewife had a point.

To paraphrase: “When you really think about it,” he said. “What she did … falling in love, getting married, staying at home and raising her children … that’s not what she and her ancestors were brought to this country to do. We weren’t brought here to go to college, fall in love, get married and live our lives. We were brought here to work and live the lives others wanted us to have.”

Jason said our lives as free people is a protest to this society that criminalizes a boy just for being black.

Our love for each other. Our community. Our friendships. Our bonds are a form of protest.

Because we aren’t doing what we were brought here to do.

How sad is it that you have intelligent adults who actually think going to college, falling in love, and getting married is a protest against white people? I really wish there were a way to let people like this actually see into the mind of the white people they think hate them so much. It would shift their whole reality — well, maybe. When your life is built around a lie, that you’re a hated victim of white people, who for the most part neither think about you at all nor even think about race unless someone else brings it up, it would be hard to see the world as it is.

When you talk about someone who lived under Jim Crow laws, you can understand their holding on to an archaic view. That person grew up in a much uglier world. Now, however, we’ve gotten to the point where many of the people raving about racism haven’t ever experienced anything that can even clearly be recognized and defined as racism. Oh, I had a schoolteacher who was a jerk, just like you — but in my case, the teacher must have acted that way because of racism. It’s a mentality that’s so at odds with reality that it’s hard to see how you even begin to change it — and it’s bad for the country and sad for the people who are afflicted with it.

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