Saturday, March 24, 2012

We're ALL Trayvon Martin...

There's a lot of bullshit being spouted about the cold-blooded murder of Trayvon Martin; specifically, that it was not racially motivated. Americans are too busy either patting themselves on the back for electing an African-American President, or hating that President for being a Muslim, Socialist, Kenyan who planned a coup de etat in utero and unconstitutionally stole the presidency, to admit to themselves that we live in a society where racism not only survives, but thrives. And white progressives can't see their own racism; and white conservatives think that the only racists left in America are black.
Geraldo Rivera, in a classic example of "blame the victim," reduced the crime to a morality play about fashion:

You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a 'gangsta' … You're gonna be a gangsta wannabe? Well, people are going to perceive you as a menace. That's what happens. It is an instant reflexive action...

The President has become a contortionist trying to avoid saying...well...anything that someone on the right might construe to be "playing the race card." He made s imple statement of sympathy for Trayvon Martin's parents, noting that if he had a son, he'd look like their son. The right-wing extremists who call themselves "conservatives" responded as expected. They called the President a "race baiter."
Newt Gingrich insisted beyond the boundaries of reality that race did not and should not play an issue in this case, and took a slap at President Obama:
Any young American of any ethnic background should be safe period. We should all be horrified no matter what the ethnic background. Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot that would be ok because it didn’t look like him?
Meanwhile, at a pistol range in Louisiana where Rick Santorum was burnishing his right-wing bona fides by firing off a couple of dozen rounds, a woman in the crowd watching the candidate to him to "pretend it's Obama." And I suppose that's not racist, either.
While I appreciate the sentiment that envisions a "post-racial society" and says "this is not a black/white issue," I also think that there's a self-consciousness about racism that too many people are vulnerable to. We are, of course, the worst judges of our own faults. Most Americans refuse to believe that their purchasing decisions are influenced by advertisements. Yet advertising is a $400 billion industry in the US alone. Like my right-wing friend in New York, constantly reminding the world that "I am not a racist," Americans -- particularly white Americans -- simply don't want to admit that racism is alive and well and living right smack dab in the center of their hearts. I happen to agree with Howie (no, really) that there's such a thing as "reverse racism." What he (and most of America) refuses to admit is that the dominant racism (white racism) is based on deeply-seated feelings of privilege and cultural superiority, and "reverse racism" (black racism) is based mostly on resentment and fear -- fear of someday, for no reason, becoming a target -- or worse: having one of your children become a target, of some hate-filled asshole like George Zimmerman. And then having the authority of the state essentially endorse that hatred by failing (or refusing) to bring that person to justice.
I happen to understand black racism a lot more than white racism.
The point is that we have to stop all of it. George Zimmerman didn't hate Travon Martin. He didn't even know him. He hated some *image* that Travon looked like in Zimmerman's ignorant, hate-addled brain. He didn't kill an innocent kid; he killed a stereotype. And that stereotyped thinking has to stop. The responsibility is white America's. When white people FINALLY see people who don't look like them as equal, when they stop looking at the Trayvon Martins of the world as "thugs" and "gangstas" and treat each individual human being as a person (as, by the way, Christ taught us to do), then people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and other groups suffering discrimination will be able to see white people as people too, and not as dangers to their safety.
Gandhi once said, "I like your Christ. I don't like your Christians." Well, I love America. But there are too many hateful Americans.
The way I see it, we're all either Trayvon Martin or we're George Zimmerman. The choice is ours. There's no in-between.