Monday, July 15, 2013

Random thoughts on the Zimmerman verdict

- The Atlantic had some good pieces from Andrew Cohen and Ta-Nehisi Coates post-verdict.

 - Obama's statement on the verdict initially annoyed, because he made it about gun control.  On further reflection, I think he has a point.  Florida being a gun-loving state has some laws in place that make things skewed favorably towards the person who pulls the trigger in any scenario.  It is highly doubtful Zimmerman would have walked in a state that was less favorable towards guns.

- For the first time in my life, I worry about my younger brother.  He has often talked about how he is stopped a million times while driving in his home city of Dallas.  He has always shrugged it off as a mere symptom of being black while driving.  But for me, it is now a little frightening to think he could also be senselessly killed, merely by running into the wrong person at the wrong time.  Such a thing bothers me because I really like that kid.  He's fun to have around.

- Last night I watched Fruitvale Station.  Frutitvale Station is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, who was shot by a police officer while restrained and while unarmed.  The timing could not have been more perfect.  What I found fascinating, watching this film, is I could see the places where we could judge Oscar:  "Well, why did you even fight back with that guy?"  "Why didn't you turn around when the police officer told you to?"  "Why were you talking back?"  etc etc.  And that's when it hit me:  Black male victims of prejudice are like rape victims.  They are never seen as victims.  First, they are questioned for performing actions that are natural in any other scenario:  "Well, why was he even out there in the first place?...Why was he fighting back?...Why was she wearing a mini skirt?...Why was she drunk?"  Of course the truth is, a woman should feel comfortable wearing whatever the fuck they want, without being blamed for a rape because she wore a mini skirt.  And a black man should feel ok being annoyed when a police officer is roughing them up, since that is a natural reaction (See Occupy Wall Street-related videos of mostly white people being visibly annoyed at cops roughing them up).  It is frightening that humans are inconsistent over who they show fairness/empathy towards.  So long as we, as a society, choose not to protect women from the actions of rapists, and so long as we choose not to protect black men from the prejudices of others, we will continue living in an intensely ugly society where Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant* are senselessly killed.

And Jordan Davis.  And Amadou Diallo.  Etc, etc.


  1. The last paragraph of your blog was chillingly eye-opening. I must admit that I rarely thought of the reality that black men are never allowed to be victims. They, instead, are questioned for what they did to cause their victimization. We are slowly creeping to a point where there is collective horror when attempts are made to accord responsibility to a rape victim; at what point shall we reach a similar point for black males?

    I now have some comments of my own to make (instead of creating a new blog.)

    First, let's get this out of the way. Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon Martin. AND supported by facts. THAT is what started the sequence of events that led to Martin's death. If you're not a black male or a Hispanic male, your opinion to the contrary is WRONG.

    Zimmerman, if the world were a different place, should have gone to jail for a long time for following someone in a relatively isolated area, and shooting them when a not unexpected confrontation ensued. I give you a scenario- if I were being followed down the street by a strange male, I would RUN. I'm also a 5'4" 125 pound woman. A hot-headed male teenager, I would expect to confront their "stalker." I would also expect the same of any guy, to be fair.

    The above being said, however, the jury voted as expected and they voted correctly based on the law. To successfully claim self-defense, Zimmerman had to prove that he felt, at the moment of shooting, that his life was in danger. Generally, a person is ordinarily not entitled to a self-defense claim when they are the initial aggressor. However, if such person indicates that they are retreating from the initial aggression or stopping that aggression, and the initial victim continues to attack the initial aggressor, the initial aggressor has now become the victim and the initial victim has now become the aggressor. With the belief of a threat of death or serious danger, the initial aggressor, as a victim, is now entitled to use deadly force. On this basis alone, and with the facts presented by Zimmerman's defense and the "I should have called out of work today" case presented by the prosecution, Zimmerman's jury acquitted appropriately.

    P.s., I do not believe Zimmerman's accounts of what happened that night. But it is his word against a dead kid. So, even if it were comprised of bigots- the sort that would make Ann Coulter think, "damn", the jury had to do what it could with what it was given.

  2. People in support of Zimmerman, however, have made me wish for the days of my ignorance. I don't think I have seen this much hate in ever. People dispassionately discussing the nature of the black man as a magnet for crime, as a thug, as forever up to no good. People completely forgetting that, at the end of the day, someone was dead. And he was only 17. People attacking blacks and claiming that they always whine and that Zimmerman should never have been brought to trial. People just being generally full of hate.

    Why could you not have supported Zimmerman without denigrating black people? Without bringing up your stereotypes of black people and forgetting that stereotypes CAN be just that, stereotypes? Without the hate?

    Why was it so easy for Zimmerman supporters to forget that the murder of Trayvon Martin took on a racial tinge NOT because of media biases or "perpetually dissatisfied" African Americans but because a child was dead and no arrests were made?

    Why do we forget that it was an actual struggle TO get Zimmerman arrested and then charged?

    Do I know the statistics of blacks who murder people and are released without arrest? No. Do I know if the Sanford, Florida police department's failure to arrest Zimmerman is a uniformly applied practice? No.

    But remember, the outcry began because the lay person assumed that this was not a uniformly applied practice.

    May I also say that, even if a uniformly applied practice, no one should ever be able to kill someone and walk. ESPECIALLY when the facts, at the outset, were murky.

    That is all.


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