I’ve been following the story of the murder of Trayvon Martin since it exploded onto my newsfeed last year. Now it has reached its awful, unjust, but sadly not surprising conclusion. Last week, a court in Florida ruled that George Zimmerman was within his rights as a citizen to shoot an unarmed black teenager, and to shoot to kill. They ruled that no one was to blame Trayvon Martin’s death, except possibly himself.
I am a white woman who grew up in a country that had a vanishingly small black population until recent years. I grew up in a country that is only now discovering its own capacity for racism. I lived in Chicago for a year, in a pre-dominantly white neighbourhood. Black people are a third of the city’s population, but I can count the times I visited or passed through black neighbourhoods on one hand. I am not Trayvon Martin. I am worlds away from Trayvon Martin. But like hundreds of other people who are not Trayvon Martin, I feel sick to my stomach over this verdict, and sicker still over the fact that there are people who continue to insist that race was not a factor in his murder.
I don’t feel qualified, eloquent or calm enough to speak to my own rage. Fortunately, the internet is full of people who are.
Cord Jefferson explains how the Zimmerman jury just told young black men what they already knew… “that we must always be deferential to white people, or face the very real chance of getting killed.”
Charles M. Blow shows how the system failed Trayvon Martin every step of the way, and asks what exact walking pace will prevent his sons from arousing suspicion.
Ta-Nehisi Coates on the irony of American Justice and the nitty-gritty of Stand Your Ground. The Trayvon Martin case “is not our system malfunctioning. It is our system working as intended.”
Jelani Cobb on the riots that never happened and the “sly inversion at work in the references to lynch mobs and riots, one that takes Zimmerman’s acquittal and expands it to all of American history.”
When is standing your ground not Stand Your Ground? When you’re a black woman being threatened by your abusive husband, apparently.
Feministing on the weirdly homogenous jury of mostly white woman who returned the Not Guilty verdict, and how white feminists cannot ignore their complicity in this injustice.
Speaking of the jurors, here’s seven fucking unbelievable things that Juror B57 said about the verdict. One of the reasons she felt Zimmerman found Martin suspicious is because it was raining.
Here is your post-racial America, courtesy of Public Shaming. WARNING: contains a lot of really awful, really violent racism.
And for every white person ready to raise the hue and cry of “but I’M not racist!”(because this is all about you and your feelings) and “I don’t even see race!” (because you are a special enlightened snowflake) and “Why are you making this about race?” (because we live in a post-racial society, obviously, see above), please stop and go read through some of this incredibly useful resource list and admit that it’s hard to see racism when you’re white.
Please take the time to click on a link or two or five. Even if, like me, you are not from the USA. Even if, like me, you are so far removed from this mess that you only have to close your laptop to pretend it doesn’t exist. Even if you think these huge difficult issues of race are not your business or your responsibility. Please take some time to read a bit and think about Trayvon Martin and maybe talk about him, tweet about him, put your own thoughts down. Because that’s the only way anything is going to change.