While watching the ongoing news coverage of the Trayvon Martin case, there is something that keeps bugging me. While it is terrible that an innocent young man lost his life over ignorance and essentially a hate crime, the thing that bothers me the most is that none of this, even in 2012 with a black president, surprises me at all. Most of America may seem shocked at the actions of George Zimmerman, but for most African Americans, this is not new to us.
I remember growing up and my mother telling me little things like be careful who I hang out with, always ask for a receipt, don’t hang out late, don’t sag your pants, etc. At the time, I didn’t fully understand the reason, but because I was a good son (and next to the Wrath of God, the Wrath of a Black Mother can make a grown man feel like a toddler) I obeyed. As I matured, it all started to make sense. Regardless of how successful I become, regardless of the fact that I am a doctor, I am first and foremost a Black Man, which to some equals A Nigger, and all the bad stereotypes that come with it. There are bad seeds of every race, but for African Americans, what one person does is somehow reflective of our entire race. This, I believe, motivated Zimmerman. He’s probably seen/heard some African Americans legitimately doing some bad sh*t in the past and wrongly assumed that all of us are suspect. Here’s the thing, given that we only make up 12% of the American population, statistics alone would state that he has seen/heard much more wrongdoing from other races, including his own, but I guarantee he doesn’t think his entire race are all gangsters, pimps, and hos.
It may not be known to other races, but we have been told by our parents that we have to be 10 times better than our white counterparts just to HOPE to be considered EQUAL, or at least close to it. It absolutely is not fair, but it happens, and it is what we do to counteract institutional racism. I mention this because if people who are supposed to be EDUCATED still look down at our race regardless of our individual and collective accomplishments, then what should we expect from some ignorant overweight neighborhood watchman who thinks he was completely justified in killing a defenseless 17 year old? I’m no weapons expert, but last time I checked no one has ever been harmed by a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Ice Tea.
Even the response from the police doesn’t surprise me. When I found out that they didn’t take away Zimmerman’s gun, the MURDER WEAPON, nor did they even QUESTION him, all I said was, “of course they didn’t.” I honestly would have been more surprised if they actually did their job, but then again that’s just me being idealistic instead of a realist. I’m glad that this case is getting the attention it deserves, but do I think things will be picture perfect if Zimmerman is arrested? The fact that I can honestly say “if” and not “when” in that previous sentence should give you my answer to that question. Pessimistic? Maybe. Truth? Absolutely. This isn’t the first time and it damn sure won’t be the last time something like this happens. It’s a damn shame, but it’s the honest truth. If you think that things are vastly different now compared to 50 years ago, you are sadly mistaken and this case unfortunately validates this fact. I pray that Trayvon Martin’s family finds peace and he gets the justice he deserves, but I also pray that Zimmerman realizes that he was wrong and turns himself in instead of waiting to see if he is going to be arrested. Now THAT, would surprise me.