Indicted and convicted; just for being Black….
[The Zimmerman Travesty: Personal Reflections]
Well, it’s over; the presentation of the case against George Zimmerman, for the murder of Trayvon Martin.
The pundits continue to speak, analyze, debate, fuel the contentiousness and profit from this horrendous display of brutality. Here is the thing, they can’t tell me; what my life experiences have taught me.
It took all I had to follow and listen to this case dispassionately. I had to. I wanted to divorce myself from the hateful contention of racism and prejudice.
I listened as though my own life and the lives of people of color I know depended on it. And it does. Not solely because we could die and often times we do, because of how we look, but because no matter what we do, how we change our language to “speak properly”, “take finishing classes” so that we can present ourselves with “polish”, “professionalism”, “etiquette”, the burden is always on us, to “fit in”, “not to be offensive”, and “not to be aggressive”.
The pressure is on us to “blend in,” to “be likeable.” These things we are told are the pillars of a successful and productive life; just like George Zimmerman put the pressure on Trayvon Martin to fit into what he thought a responsible adult should look like, and who had the right to be in that community on the night he was murdered.
There is the rub; and the critical failure of humanity.
My Black skin always puts me behind the eight ball. The quality and content of my character will never be the foremost thing that determines the quality of my existence on this earth.
It will at most be a mitigating factor, which allows non-Black people to learn to live with people who look like me.
The Trayvon Martin case finally reduced me to tears, because as I thought about a profiling incident that happened to me, as a dorky, teenaged, college girl in a Pink hooded college sweatshirt, it hit me: IT COULD HAVE BEEN ME.
It hit me very deeply and personally — as I recalled the racism I experienced personally and professionally, the accusations hurled at folks who look like me, for just walking into a room.
I cried, as I looked at Trayvon Martin’s parents; who are equally “guilty” of being Black and birthing a Black child.
It’s hurtful, because it is doubtful that anyone, who has not experienced it, will ever understand in the depths of their hearts; understand the loss we as Black people suffer because we are born Black.
Before we make A SINGLE MOVEMENT we are judged and convicted. We spend our existence having to counteract the effects of the thought process of non-Black people.
We lose our lives, our livelihoods, the opportunity to live in quiet, clean and orderly environments, to be educated and afforded the opportunity to choose for ourselves our activities; we lose these things because the people in control of the distribution of resources are not Black.
All we are guilty of is being “present”, and the non-Black people can be off to the races, with their assumptions, based upon superficial things that may not reflect our mindset or intentions toward them; just like George Zimmerman was with Trayvon Martin.
I cannot in clear conscious accuse George Zimmerman of purposely setting out to kill Trayvon Martin. Much like the jury, there simply isn’t enough evidence of that.
But I can convict him of profiling and being responsible for killing a human being, who was only guilty of being present.
George Zimmerman because of his white skin tone gets the benefit of the doubt and he gets to live. Mr. Martin and Black people do not get the benefit of the doubt. Just like the idea of privacy is something that white people hold onto as a “right”; Black people are not so naïve, we’ve never had that luxury.
People have always taken what was in our possession, our bodies, our children, our family members; they’ve always listened to our conversations.
We do not claim the “right” to privacy. George Zimmerman was not forced to explain why he did not retreat if he feared for his safety and life. Trayvon Martin was supposed to do that very thing though.
He was supposed to retreat, he was supposed to just “go home”. He was never afforded the benefit of the doubt that he was in danger. It was a danger that proved to be real, because he is dead.
Trayvon was correct to characterize George Zimmerman as a “creepy ass cracker”. He symbolized his fear and concern; and he is dead.
There is no stronger argument for Trayvon Martin’s defensive actions that got him shot.
Therefore, my people, we are all at danger, all the time.
Copyright© 2013 Dena Williams. All rights reserved
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