Racism, Not Hoodies: The Real Menace to Society
Three years ago today, Trayvon Martin was murdered for no other reason than being a Black male. As much as detractors try to play up ambiguities in that night’s circumstance or justify George Zimmerman’s actions, we know what it was about. The criminalization of Black men by our society has embedded an innate fear in many whites that I won’t apologize for but still have to be mindful of.
Three years later I still don’t feel safe. Just walking home after a long day’s work, you’re reminded you’re a Black male. Not only do you deal with people staring at you out of the corner of their eye when you’re behind them, or stopping to let you go ahead, you have to watch your back to make sure you don’t pique the interest of another white male or police officer who thinks it’s our day to die.
If affirming your blackness alone is a revolutionary act, Trayvon Martin is a martyr of Blackness. As much as people want to pretend George Zimmerman’s attack was a happenstance incident, there were hundreds of years of context in his mind when he decided to hunt Trayvon, subconsciously or not.
Whatever was in Zimmerman’s mind, the media did a good job of pulling it out in their pathetic coverage of Trayvon Martin’s murder. From influencing prejudgment by choosing pictures of Trayvon that fit a “thug” stereotype, to going to every possible length to defend Zimmerman’s actions, this country showed us what they thought of us.
Media anchors suddenly became Robert Kardashian, Johnnie Cochran and Mark Geragos all in one. Trayvon Martin was literally murdered by George Zimmerman for walking down the street, and Trayvon was on trial in the court of public opinion!
Whenever tragedy strikes this country, at least in the areas that “matter”, there’s usually legislation that curtails it from happening again. The push for gun control laws after Sandy Hook loom most prominently in my mind. The stand your ground law has actually increased unjust murder, and there’s been no thought of repealing it in the courts. This law is essentially giving people the OK to hunt Black men in Florida and say they were defending themselves from “thugs”.
Modern racism isn’t as overt as slavery or segregation, but legislation is the breeding ground for our subliminal extermination. Laws are being passed to steer us towards jail cells and graves. Trayvon Martin is a victim of that agenda. If there can be any solace, I believe his murder sparked a renewed agency in Black youth to fight the beast of white supremacy. Hopefully, the fact that Black youth across the country are fighting for him and all other Black lives unjustly ended gives his soul and his family a semblance of solace.
The cruelest irony is in the years since the incident, we’ve learned in George Zimmerman’s hunting of who he thought was a violent, counterproductive member of society, was simply projecting. In all his dysfunction he’s proven himself to be the real menace…and he wasn’t wearing a hoodie.