Trayvon, Zimmerman, and the Man in the Mirror

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First, let me start by saying I didn’t pay that much close attention to the George Zimmerman murder trial.  To me, it didn’t much matter, because as we now see, it solved nothing.  Half the country still thinks Zimmerman is a murder, while the other half believe justice was done.  Zimmerman was found not guilty, but is considered a murderer by half the country…so what did the trial ultimately achieve?  Who knows.

From the beginning of this case, I knew this is where we would end up.  There was no satisfactory ending here.  If Zimmerman had been found guilty, I am sure there would be a large segment of the population decrying the end of the right to self defense in this country.

The legal aspects of the case are of little consequence to me at this point.  I think the jury did what it had to do, and there was little prosecutors could do otherwise.  I don’t believe Zimmerman is innocent though…he is not guilty under the view of the law.  But common sense, in hindsight, would say that Zimmerman should never have left his car that night.  I wonder, in his most honest moments, if he wouldn’t admit that himself.

But moving past the legal arguments, what is of more consequence is how this reflects on us as a nation.

After the election of Barack Obama, many people believed we had reached a ‘turning point’ on race relations.  Of course, we now see that maybe no such thing exists.  We once again are faced with a highly charged teachable moment, showing us that under the calm demeanor of the public, the angst of the African American community is unchanging.

In many respects, this is the mirror image of the O.J. Simpson trial.  After O.J.’s acquittal, Black communities cheered, regardless of the fact that few believed that O.J. was really innocent.  It did not matter; it was a victory from the legal system that minorities so distrusted, and that was preeminent.  They won; the facts were irrelevant.

Today, those same communities feel betrayed.  They feel Trayvon was murdered, for no cause, and justice was not done.  We complete the circle, and appear to not advanced one inch.

I wish there was some possibility of closure, some moment of clarity, a beam of sunlight that would make this better.  There isn’t.  We currently have leaders unable to bring any divergent groups together.  We as a nation are as divided as we have been at any time in my lifetime. There is no grand conciliator waiting in the wings, to bring Americans of all stripes and colors together, to morn for a young man’s death, while accepting the ruling of the Justice system.

What is even more frightening is that Zimmerman is not really even a great example of the oppressive white majority that the media would like to make him out to be. Zimmerman’s father is white, a US Army veteran who became a magistrate in Fairfax County, Virginia.  Zimmerman’s mother is Peruvian, and her own grandparents were…of African descent.

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Zimmerman’s maternal grandmother, Cristina, who had lived with the Zimmermans since 1978, worked as a babysitter for years during Zimmerman’s childhood. For several years she cared for two African-American girls who ate their meals at the Zimmerman house and went back and forth to school each day with the Zimmerman children.  Zimmerman dated African Americans in high school, started his first business with an African American friend…this was no skin head bigot we are talking about here.

George Zimmerman is a member of a minority, a liberal Democrat.  Zimmerman is about as a mixed ethnic child of America as you can provide…and now, he is the definition of the racism in America.

Does it matter?  Does it matter that Zimmerman, a white/hispanic/and even partially African child of America is supposed to be a white oppressor of African Americans?  I have no answers.  I simply don’t know.  I do know it makes me immensely sad. I have tears in my eyes when I see Trayvon’s parents, who I am sure are unable to bring any closure to this tragedy.  And yet, I am not sure the justice system did anything wrong, in which case…what the hell are we supposed to think?

I do know this:  for all the supposed honest talk about race we are supposed to be having, there is a lot of dishonesty going around.

At the end of the day, a young African American teenager is dead, for no good reason, with his family’s life torn apart; Zimmerman is technically free, but his life will forever be defined by those four minutes in a dark sidewalk in his neighborhood, so in many respects he will never be free.  And moreover, the country once again regresses, as the race baiters and race dividers in our country once again score a victory.  And we as a nation learn nothing.

This was crossposted at Neoavatara.

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