“I heard someone crying — not boo-hoo crying, but scared or terrified or hurt maybe. To me, it was a child.”
I have followed the case of Trayvon Martin since it first broke. He was a seventeen-year-old African-American who during halftime of the NBA All-Star game reportedly went to the store to get his brother some candy. Armed with nothing more than a bag of Skittles, he was shot dead—just yards from his father’s home—by a “neighborhood watch” freak with a gun, a freak who is free to carry his 9 millimeter pistol legally here in twenty-first century America, blessed as we are to have a conservative Supreme Court majority with its feet firmly planted in the Old West.
And, so far, the gun-toting 250-pound faux-vigilante who shot and killed 140-pound Trayvon Martin is being partially protected by a bizarre state law—”Stand Your Ground“—in an increasingly bizarre state—Florida.
This case is hard for me to write about, and honestly I have been thinking, since the story became national news, that there would be some facts come out that would make it more understandable, more digestible.
But the more I learn about the case the more incomprehensible it becomes.
My teenage son, who is as white as snow, may eventually find fate an unkind companion, but he will never face the fate that awaited Trayvon Martin—who was guilty of nothing but being black. And although there are pathologies strewn throughout American communities of all colors and persuasions, a persistent pathology has plagued America since its founding, a pathology of racism rooted in our history of slavery, the demons of which torment us to this day.
Thankfully, Lawrence O’Donnell did two excellent segments Monday night on the issue, and I implore all to watch the segments below, especially those comfortable whites* who think that the America white people see is one and the same America that black people see:
* George Zimmerman, the faux-vigilante who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, was apparently described by police as “white,” even though his family “says he is Hispanic and is not racist.” The point here, though, is that many white people believe that all is right with America on the racial front, especially since 53% of us voted for Barack Obama. But all is not right—not yet.