Category Archives: Trayvon Martin
Trayvon Martin isn’t Nicole Simpson or Laci Peterson or Jon Benet Ramsey, but I’m glad he isn’t. Media concern soon becomes media spectacle. Those women were rarely the central focus of the narratives that were created about them. They were more exploited than anything. They were used as vehicles for other people’s agendas. Whether or not they received justice became second to the machine built around them. More media attention may yet come for Trayvon Martin, but I am afraid that it will be motivated by profit and not interest in justice. It being the “hot” thing to talk about. What attracts viewers. What brings in page views.
“These assholes always get away.” – George Zimmerman
The outrage surrounding the murder of Trayvon Martin–an unarmed Black teen visiting his father in Orlando–is reaching a boiling point. Many are justifiably outraged by the fact that, up until this point, the criminal justice system has failed to even initiate justice for the victim or his family. The release of the 911 tapes from that night has been released, and the contents of the tapes have left the parents of the victim, the Sanford community, and many around the world infuriated.
One of the most disturbing elements of the 911 tape is the moment when George Zimmerman launches into his racist diatribe. Zimmerman states, “These assholes always get away,” and the racial animosity in his voice is palpable. It is at this point, that the linguistic murder of Trayvon Martin takes place, and Zimmerman, poisoned by racism, needs only to act out, physically, the racial violence he has already perpetuated linguistically. For as Toni Morrison says, “oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence.”
When I heard Zimmerman utter on tape “they always get away,” my mind instantly fixated on the irony of the statement. I am well aware of the ways in which racism distorts the abilities of White people to think rationally, but this particular utterance made this fact clear in a very sobering way. Zimmerman’s statement is laced with racist stereotypes about Black people, and is a clear reminder of the ways in which White privilege functions to blind White people to the history of not only Blacks, but themselves. What other than the White racist imagination would convince White men that they aren’t the assholes who always get away? I ask these questions.
The very foundation of this nation depended upon White male assholes always getting away. From Plymouth Rock to The War in Iraq, White men have been able to a. be assholes, and b. get away. Were White men not being assholes when they decided upon themselves to force Native Americans off their land? Were White men not being assholes when they decided to make it illegal, following Bacon’s Rebellion, for any Black to own a firearm? Were White men not being assholes when they crafted a constitution espousing equality of all, but deciding that this did not extend to Blacks or women? These are but a few of the examples of White men being assholes, and, yes, they were able to get away with this. The White racist imagination would like to believe that Black men “always get away,” but the historical record tells otherwise.
According to Digital History, “the Census Bureau estimates that 4,742 lynchings took place between 1882 and 1968.” The White racist imagination conveniently overlooks data like this, because it would mean coming to grips with the truth that it is not Blacks who “get away” with crimes, but rather Whites. Most, if not all, of those lynching did not result in criminal charges for the White perpetrators. A more recent example of White men continuing to “get way” with crimes is The War in Iraq. George Bush–by all accounts an asshole– was able to get away with falsely leading a nation into war and killing thousands of innocent people in the process. As of today, George Bush has not been arrested for war crimes which only underscore the fact that it is Whites, and not Blacks, who always get away.
It should be noted that Zimmerman, himself, became the embodiment of his on racist imagined reality. As of today, no charges have been filed against George Zimmerman for his brutal murder of Trayvon Martin, and he has not been arrested. Zimmerman, in a most asshole-ish way, got away with–for too many weeks–the murder of an innocent, unarmed Black teen that had only a bag of skittles and a can of tea on him. He follows in a long tradition of White assholes getting away with the maiming and killing of Black people, particularly Black men. A more accurate claim would be that Black men are all too often gunned down for simply appearing “suspicious.” We can only hope that Zimmerman gets a taste of what it is like to not get away, a taste of what happens to assholes when they are caught and brought to justice.