How the onslaught of commentary on the Zimmerman verdict may have increased racism.
The Zimmerman trial. I don’t even need to explain it because I know you know it.
This case did not need to be about race. It was supposed to be purely judiciary. Obama always has to comment though, as he did throughout the trial and most notably in his speech a few days ago. He had to seize the moment to enhance his celebrity status. (Props to him for giving an emotional speech without using a teleprompter…but still.)
Those clicking locks? Those stares? Those stereotypes he talked about?
America is now reveling in them. Rather than the issue being downplayed, sidelined – as is necessary to eliminate racism entirely – it has been brought to the forefront of American thinking.
Racism will never cease to exist if the scab is broken open again, and again and again.
As a country, we’ve made notable progress in this area. And I only can speculate that from my mere twenty years of life. But my history books tell enough for me to know the difference. In this present day for one, Obama, you’ve broken a stereotype held by some – African Americans can’t be president. And now African Americans join you everywhere in culture, in government positions, with every type of degree, present in the education system, active in the sciences. And what about the oft-referenced criminals who daily make the headlines? Black and white alike.
In the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial, I began to have underlying thoughts that racism is more prevalent in America than I had previously believed. But is it really? That was just one case that was open for speculation. Is it accurate to use a singular case as the nationwide re-determiner on the state of racism?
So from my meager, white perspective, I say let’s cease the conversation and, in turn, cease the racism.
Racism will not cease until we are no longer constantly suspicious of whether an action is racist or not.
Let me try to explain this in a different context.
Scenario: you’re trying to stop being “unhealthy,” so you embark on a journey to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You meticulously analyze everything you eat, every food item you see. You run it through your mental grid of “healthy” and “un-healthy.” Avoiding that unhealthy lifestyle? It becomes elusive. It’s replaced by a constant nagging and a constant shame rather than a natural process of life and living differently. Your thoughts are consumed – your suspicions reign supreme. And instead of moving from A to B you’ve moved back to Z.
What’s the alternative scenario? You embark on a journey to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You recognize that there will be challenges and setbacks, so you allow room for grace when mistakes are made. The healthy lifestyle comes to you naturally not because you are dictated by it but because you are willing to change even if it’s painful and slow.
May the breakdown of racism in the light of the Zimmerman verdict begin with a story like this:
George Zimmerman rescued a family from an overturned SUV last week.
Had you heard that? Maybe once. Maybe you saw a two inch story on it. But is that not entirely telling of his character? Would someone terrified for his life – as he should be with all of the death threats he’s been receiving – risk vulnerability by exiting the security of a closed vehicle and assisting a roadside incident?
What if the people were some of his biggest haters? Don’t you think his actions were birthed out of the calculated risk? I’m not saying this instance justifies what Zimmerman did when he encountered Martin on that night. But I think it speaks volumes about what kind of character he has.
Another fact to note: the crash transpired less than a mile away from his Feb. 2012 encounter with Trayvon Martin. All those comments about Zimmerman being “in hiding” and needing to “run away” – it doesn’t appear that he’s removed himself too far.
And you know what?
I think George Zimmerman would have saved this family even if they were African American.