The media has hyped the Zimmerman trial to the apex of Everest and, yes, I have fallen prey to watching much of it. No one in this nation arrives at their own personal verdict of acquittal or guilt of George Zimmerman without the animus of race being a pertinent part of one's conclusion. No one comes into this life in this country as a tabula raza that is a clean slate on the subject of race. Most have probably reached a conclusion based in part on the trial’s racial component.
When polled after the O.J. Simpson trial the opinion of the American public broke on the lines of race. Whites in large numbers thought O.J. guilty and persons of color either thought he was innocent or loved the miscarriage of justice acquitting him. Whites, mostly, were incensed that a black man got off for a murder he most likely committed. I remember rationalizing this as I saw this miscarriage of justice as payback to whites for the eons of eras in US history people of African descent have gotten the jackboot of justice crushing their necks. They have, I thought, had long standing grievances against this nation which prides itself on its egalitarian ethos. It has as, Martin Luther King said, written a check to African Americans returned to them marked insufficient funds.
The violence perpetrated in this country against people of African descent since the first slave ship arrived on the continent is well documented. For over 350 years white violence against African Americans by their white masters has been legion; translated over time it has been incomprehensible. Even though I disagreed with the verdict on the evidence in the OJ case I justified it as long overdue payback for the many egregious perpetrations of injustice this besieged group of humanity had to and still does experience in this land. Finally, it was not the business-as-usual white man getting away with literally murders of many innocent black men and women.
How many whites supremacists have historically gotten off for the murder and rape of Africans? How much violence over that period has been perpetrated unjustly against the black man even to this day? Our history is clear no matter how fervent the white denial. The KKK and other white nationalist groups planted their many flaming crosses to ensure the black man would never escape slavery, live in fear and when freed would never hold power. We KNOW this to be true in our own era.
The black man need only walk out his door to know he will be judged more harshly, more unjustly and treated more inequitably because he is black and for no other reason. The history of white malevolent behavior against blacks is ever so long, the rectification of this injustice moves ever so slowly and the arc of justice is shorter than it should be. Indeed, there at times seems to be a reversal of fortune for the black man as the right wing perpetrated regression to another era has begun in our time. Racism in this nation is on a slow burn; it simmers on a seemingly eternal boil waxing and waning depending on the historical moment.
We see it now everywhere even in those states not part of the old Confederacy. It stretches into every corner of our culture from the courts to the voting booth. There is a systematic attempt by most especially those in the Republican Party to insidiously subtract the black vote rather than to inclusively add to it. A Supreme Court has by one stroke of a rancid decision nullified the most important paragraph of the 1965 Voting Rights Act with the hutzpah (nerve) to say there is no longer racism in the south and other states of the nation. Tell that to minorities who had to wait for hours to vote. Tell that to African American males who are jailed twice as much as whites for crimes which are perpetrated by whites at twice the rate. No wonder African Americans are angry. I am angry too.
The State of Florida v. George Zimmerman is saturated with our historical racist animus. Here is what I think occurred: George Zimmerman wanted to be a cop. He wanted it so much he reported many times the threat of crime in that predominantly white gated community where he neighborhood watched. He carried a gun and felt secure he was protected. His profanity laced 911 calls show in clear decibel tones the extent of his anger and determination to get the alleged criminal. He saw Travon Martin, riding a bike with “something in his hand” wearing a hoodie. That something in Travon’s hand turned out to be as lethal as package of Skittles can be. The man he followed instead of returning to his car as directed by the police turned out to be a teenager on a bike who had every right to be where he was riding to his father’s residence. George Zimmerman has lied not once but many times when he retold his story of what occurred that fateful night. He was caught in a whopper on the right wing station, Fox News. He was on friendly turf and he lied, showed no emotion, said he would do everything all over again if he had the chance and OF COURSE attributed it to God’s plan! The malevolence of the man Zimmerman, the mendaciousness of the man Zimmerman, the utter gall of the man Zimmerman to think that he could shoot Trayvon in the heart, kill him and get away with it simply by claiming self-defense. Zimmerman carried the gun and was loaded for bear. The defense counsel’s final argument was theater of the absurd ridiculous carrying around a block of cement dusting off his pants thinking that argument would resonate. Like Lady Macbeth he could not wash the blood and the dust as metaphor all off.
Zimmerman was simmering that night. He was testosterone infused and dedicated to taking someone down. Travon Martin was a picture perfect fit for that desire and after all it was God’s plan. God’s plan? I think NOT. George Zimmerman, in my opinion, will get the justice he never gave Trayvon. A teenager is dead and George Zimmerman killed him.
If our country has a shred of decency left GUILTY OF MANSLAUGHTER will be the final verdict for George Zimmerman and as John Guy counsel for the prosecution, said in his brilliant and impassioned closing argument, Travon Benjamin Martin will get the truth the dead so rightfully deserve. That is one truth that cannot be erased.