A white man and an elderly Native man became pretty good friends, so the white guy decided to ask him: “What do you think about Indian mascots?” The Native elder responded, “Here’s what you’ve got to understand. When you look at black people, you see ghosts of all the slavery and the rapes and the hangings and the chains. When you look at Jews, you see ghosts of all those bodies piled up in death camps. And those ghosts keep you trying to do the right thing. “But when you look at us you don’t see the ghosts of the little babies with their heads smashed in by rifle butts at the Big Hole, or the old folks dying by the side of the trail on the way to Oklahoma while their families cried and tried to make them comfortable, or the dead mothers at Wounded Knee or the little kids at Sand Creek who were shot for target practice. You don’t see any ghosts at all. “Instead you see casinos and drunks and junk cars and shacks. “Well, we see those ghosts. And they make our hearts sad and they hurt our little children. And when we try to say something, you tell us, ‘Get over it. This is America. Look at the American dream.’ But as long as you’re calling us Redskins and doing tomahawk chops, we can’t look at the American dream, because those things remind us that we are not real human beings to you. And when people aren’t humans, you can turn them into slaves or kill six million of them or shoot them down with Hotchkiss guns and throw them into mass graves at Wounded Knee. “No, we’re not looking at the American dream. And why should we? We still haven’t woken up from the American nightmare.”
You know, I’m amazed how we don’t judge the choices that rich white men make. Look at how we don’t prosecute bank executives who illegally foreclosed on middle class families and rigged international lending rates. Look at how we defend mutli-million dollar pay packages for CEOs running their companies into the ground and yet scrutinize even a 10-cent increase in the minimum wage. Look at how we make excuses for male politician after politician who drop their pants and then make comebacks (pun intended!).
But poor women, especially poor women of color, immigrant women—we judge every choice they make. We judge them if they have children. We judge them if they get abortions and don’t have children. We don’t care that General Electric doesn’t pay any taxes— but we care that poor women of color collect public assistance AND have too nice of a cell phone.
The definition of racism in public discourse has been so distorted that any mention of race is construed as racist, mostly by opportunistic right-wingers looking to deflect from their own racist beliefs.
Any analysis of race and racism in America that does not account for the country’s white supremacist foundation is useless. Ultimately, racism is a system of oppression that has disproportionately benefited those classified as “white” and regards others as second-class citizens. For a policy/thought/action/statement to be racist, it has to reinforce that second-class status. Absent the power of doing so, we’re not talking about racism. Bigotry, perhaps, or personal hatred, but not racism. Racism needs power.
It’s why Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk is racist, and de Blasio’s pointing out that his son could be a victim of stop-and-frisk isn’t. One uses the power of the state to impose second-class citizenship on a group and justifies it by employing rhetoric that deems them inherently criminal and inferior; the other is a personal testimony of how that affects the lives of those who are targeted.
I see some people are mad about my rape post but you guys know NOTHING of privilege. Women are always less privileged than men REGARDLESS of race. So that means when a man rapes a woman that it is always rape.
The Human Privilege “Break down” for those who need educating:
Most Privileged to least privileged….
- White Straight Cis Male
- Asian Straight Cis Male
- Hispanic Straight Cis Male
- Mixed/Native Straight Cis Male
- African American Straight Cis Male
- White Gay Cis Male
- Asian Gay Cis Male
- Hispanic Gay Cis Male
- Mixed/Native Gay Cis Male
- African American Gay Cis Male
- White Straight Cis Female
- Asian Straight Cis Female
- Hispanic Straight Cis Female
- Mixed/Native Straight Cis Female
- African American Straight Cis Female
- White Gay Cis Female
- Asian Gay Cis Female
- Hispanic Gay Cis Female
- Mixed/Native Gay Cis Female
- African American Gay Cis Female
- White Tran Individual
- Asian Trans Individual
- Hispanic Trans Individual
- Mixed/Native Trans Individual
- African American Trans Individual
- White Pans/Demi Female (this is me)
- Asian Pans/Demi Female
- Hispanic Pans/Demi Female
- Mixed/Natvie Pans/Demi female
- African American Pans/Demi Female
This is the greatest blog post that has ever been written.
Thanks White girl, for letting me know I’m 9 spots more privileged than you. I never knew that QWOC were so much more privileged than White girls who date men.
The way I think about it, is, say a fireman is told by a supervisor, we need you to put out 15 fires this month. And if you don’t put out 15 fires you’re gonna get penalized for it. So if he doesn’t find 15 fires to put out, is that his fault? It’s not. But the fireman might even go out there and start setting fires, causing fires, just so he’s not penalized or looks bad… And that’s kind of what the police officers are doing.
Are these really the people running the country?
My brother is a tall, skinny, black kid with an athletic build who frequently wears a hoodie, often with his ear buds in. Sometimes he does this in a beautiful cul-de-sac community where he does not live, but my relatives in Delaware do, where all the houses look the same and there are only a few streets. All the backyards connect without fencing, and sometimes he’ll go for a walk down the street, or through the grass, sometimes at night, oblivious to who may be seeing him, wondering what he’s up to, while he’s ignorantly and blissfully listening to A$AP Rocky.
He is Trayvon Martin.
And as I’ve read and watched and discussed this case to anyone foolish enough to get me started on the topic, and although I, like many people, have occasionally been frustrated by the ways in which the media has characterized this case (George Zimmerman’s race, in my personal opinion, is irrelevant), the witnesses (like Rachel Jeantel, who has been beaten up on by not only the conservative media, but also the black community, the Twitter citizenry, and the defense and prosecution lawyers, even when they’ve tried to show her deference), the importance of the verdict (which, in my personal opinion, is irrelevant) and the potential of race riots after it is delivered (which, in my personal opinion, is irrelevant), I am almost embarrassed to admit how amazingly personal this case is to me as black man who will someday have black children.
That is because my brother is Trayvon Martin, and my future children are Trayvon Martin.
The indisputable facts of this case: George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator with a license to carry a concealed weapon, was accustomed to being on red alert after a series of burglaries by young black males who plagued his gated community. On the rainy evening of February 26, 2012, Zimmerman saw a potential perp — a young black male with ahoodie who was talking through his ear buds to a friend on the phone — and Zimmerman called the police as he had done half a dozen times before in the weeks before the incident.
Instead of remaining in his car, he got out and followed the teenager, even though police told him that an officer was on the way and they didn’t “need” him to do that. The teenager continued to travel away from Zimmerman, who continued after him. Eventually there was a confrontation, a fight, and the teenager, Trayvon Martin, was shot by a single bullet through his heart. Zimmerman has maintained that Martin was beating him up violently against the concrete, and that the killing was in self-defense.
And, believe it or not, the fact that Zimmerman can even claim self-defense, or the fact that anyone, regardless of race, can claim self-defense in a situation even tangentially resembling this one, is the mostdisturbing and terrifying aspect to me.
Defenders of George Zimmerman say, he had a reasonable reason to identify and suspect Trayvon Martin considering the recent burglaries. Getting out of his car wasn’t illegal, nor was ignoring the suggestion of the police dispatcher! Certainly nothing is wrong with asking someone, “What are you doing around here?,” and if, at any given moment, he had a reasonable fear for his life, then he had a legal right and responsibility to protect himself.
I have walked into restaurants and rest stop bathrooms where I have instantly been aware of my blackness, only because everyone else around me is. I have walked into places where people have literally whispered and pointed, without even the slightest bit of shame or covertness, to their companions at me, the lone black person in the establishment. I have had relationships dissolve because of parents who were “concerned” about what people might say about the black guy.
Me. The Old Navy cargo shorts and silly t-shirt rocking, flip-flops all day, every day, during the summer wearing, me. On the Cosby scale, I’m about six shades darker than Lisa Bonet and six shades lighter than Malcolm Jamal Warner. I’m Mr. I-wrote-a-book-on-Pee-wee-Herman-and-frequently-listen-to-the-Spice-Girls -and-the-only-hoodies-I-own-advertise-either-the-college-I -attended-or-the-musical-theater-show-I’m-directing-at-my- full-time-job.
But, you see, I’m Trayvon Martin. And if you’re a black male, regardless of your age, your height, your weight, how dark your skin is, what you’re wearing, and what you’re listening to on the device in your pocket, someone somewhere is seeing you as Trayvon Martin.
Even if you’re carrying a package of Skittles and an Arizona iced tea, just trying to continue your phone call and get to your father’s house to watch the NBA All-Star game with your little half-brother, you are Trayvon Martin.
And nice people who know me personally, hopefully, will shake their heads in confusion at this and will say, “Well, that isn’t fair! If they only knew you, no one would ever be afraid of you.” And, of course, that’s the point and the problem. Because if I can cause someone to feel nervous, concerned, or uncomfortable while they’re eating in a restaurant, then it doesn’t require a leap of faith to understand why George Zimmerman assumed that the teenager walking around his neighborhood was a threat.
But what I think is equally disturbing is that I can understand, and by extension, at least to some extent, accept the decision of George Zimmerman to notice Trayvon Martin and make that 911 call in the first place.
When I walk into a convenience store late at night, especially if I’m the only person there besides the employee, I’m amazingly aware of how my presence might make him or her feel uncomfortable. I consciously try to smile and look pleasant. Sometimes I even go so far as to have my debit card in my hand before I reach the counter so I don’t have to reach in my pocket and run the risk of causing any alarms – literal or figurative. When stopped by a cop (which, especially when I was a teenager, would happen all the time), I sat patiently with my hands on the wheel, and gave clear and non-threatening verbal warnings before I made any movements.
“My registration is in my glove compartment,” I’d say. “I’m going to take off my seat belt, open my glove compartment, and go get it for you, sir.”
One time on the New Jersey Turnpike, as I was driving back to college, a state trooper stopped me for speeding. After I gave the verbal warning and got the okay, I reached into my glove compartment.
“Rolling papers?” he asked.
“Are those rolling papers?” There were about five super-flat packets of Stride gum in the back of my glove compartment.
I said they were packets of gum, and after I pulled them out and put them in the trooper’s hand, which he inspected with his partner as if the two of them had never seen a pack of gum before, I was let off with a warning and sent on my way.
And as I drove away, I took those packets of gum and threw them in my book bag. How stupid, I immediately thought, for keeping them in there. I should have known they looked like rolling papers.
It wasn’t until I got back to my dorm room that I was amazed that in that encounter, I somehow felt guilty, like I had done something wrong for having gum in my car. There are people who will argue that if only Trayvon Martin had declined to hit George Zimmerman after he was a) hit first, or b) approached, or c) followed, depending on which version of the story you believe, or if Trayvon hadn’t been wearing that hoodie, despite the adverse weather conditions, he’d still be alive. Sure, he wasn’t guilty of anything really, but he could have made life easier for himself by maybe not acting or looking so, I don’t know, bla—intimidating?
This is a significant part of the underlying concern a lot of people, particularly black people, have with this case. It isn’t enough that Trayvon Martin was killed with nothing more than a cell phone, a photo button, a bottle of Arizona iced tea, and a package of Skittles on him, but then insult is added to injury when it’s insinuated that he somehow, inherently, deserved it for walking-while-black in a gated community that happened to have previously been plagued by black criminals. Somehow, for a lot of people, it wasn’t George Zimmerman’s fault that Trayvon ended up killed because, as we “all know,” Trayvon was sort of asking for it.
You put on a hoodie and you know what baggage comes with that, right?
This case will, frighteningly, come down to whether or not the six jurors believe that George Zimmerman was justified in his fear. Another way of asking that is, of course, whether or not those six jurors, if placed in the same situation, could imagine themselves reasonably drawing and acting upon those same assumptions.
Is it impossible to imagine that? Of course not. But that’s precisely the problem.
Because as I think about what certainly occurred that evening, and what likely did, even if I give every single concession to George Zimmerman’s contested version of events (ie: Trayvon hit him first, Trayvon pushed Zimmerman to the ground, Trayvon beat him up, Trayvon saw the gun –- which is amazingly unlikely in the blackness of the night with the weapon concealed, but let’s just say that happened), I can’t help but think to myself:
Good. Good for you, Trayvon Martin, for doing what I would hope to God my brother would do if he was walking down the street with a package of Skittles and was followed and confronted by a man with a decade of life and 70 pounds over him.
Because what people don’t understand about this unfortunate situation is that I feel some degree of fear when I’m doing nothing wrong, like in the restaurant, rest stop, and convenience store, and my very presence causes someone to feel afraid.
And if you aren’t safe with a package of Skittles, walking around your family’s cul-de-sac in Delaware, wearing your Old Navy flip-flops,then when are you ever safe? If you find yourself approached by some stranger, why can’t you run from them without it being assumed that you’re fleeing the scene of some crime you’re destined to commit? If you’re a teenager and confronted by an adult you perceive to be creepy, why can’t you fight for your life? Stand your ground? And why, if you get killed after all of that, would people say it must have been your fault?
A lot of people don’t understand that. They think black people see race in everything and Al Sharpton should have just minded his business. Trayvon Martin was a hood and George Zimmerman did what any responsible person would have done. Justice was already served, they say, and a verdict finding Zimmerman guilty of anything would some sort of de facto reparations –- an example of white guilt and a bone thrown to the civil rights movement.
And that’s only because they haven’t walked a mile from a 7-11 back home in Trayvon Martin’s shoes, like so many other people have.
As University of Connecticut professor and New Yorker columnist Jelani Cobb wrote, “We live in an era in which the protocol for addressing even the most severely bigoted behavior very often includes a conditional apology to the offender—a declaration that he has made a terrible error, but is, of course, in no way racist—and, eventually, an outpouring of support for the fallible transgressor, victim of the media and the ‘race-hustlers.’ We grade racism on the severest of curves, and virtually no one qualifies.”
That’s true, which is why I think questions of George Zimmerman’s racial views are irrelevant. Labeling anyone a racist is a feudal argument, especially since it amounts to nothing. I have never seen someone effectively convinced that a person is a racist. It’s a judgment that’s impossible to be talked into or out of.
But I offer this. Just a few hours ago, Zimmerman’s defense attorney Mark O’Mara, who I believe has genuinely been a relatively reasonable person throughout this trial, took to CNN to give his first interview after the two sides rested their cases. He was asked by the anchor what he thinks George Zimmerman’s life will be like if he’s acquitted.
O’Mara, with a stone face and look of genuine disappointment in the truth embedded in his answer, said that Zimmerman will never be safe. He’ll always live his life in fear. He will never know when a “crazy person” (his words) will kill him.
“Everyone knows what George Zimmerman looks like,” O’Mara said. “He doesn’t know what a person who wants to kill him looks like.”
And this was said without even the slightest hint of irony. The irony jumped out of my television, into my living room, pointed at me, and laughed in my face. And I called it “sir,” and I apologized for even noticing it in the first place. And it shot me in my heart and made me come to my computer and confess the truth that I’ve met George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman doesn’t know what a person who wants to kill him looks like, but everyone knows what he looks like?
Which is fundamentally different than George Zimmerman knowing what “they” – those many, many Trayvon Martins out there – look like.
This afternoon, one or two stops after mine, two Black boys got on the L. The older boy couldn’t have been more than 15 or 16. They were carrying boxes. The younger boy asked the older boy what time it was. “2 o’clock.” he said.
2 o’clock. I remember reading something on Tumblr earlier today that there was going to be a rally for Trayvon Martin today at 2. I wondered what the crowd was like.
The two boys put their boxes down. The older one took a deep breath and bellowed:
Excuse me ladies and gentlemen! I’m sorry for the interruption. May I please have your attention? My name is James and we’re selling candy today. This is not for a fundraiser. We are selling candy to keep ourselves off the streets, out of trouble, and to put a little money in our pockets. Today we have Oreo cookies, Welch’s Fruit Snacks, and M&Ms all for one dollar. Would anyone like to buy some?
It’s always great when they have something other than fruit snacks.
As the younger boy handed me my M&Ms, I suddenly felt a rush of sadness. These boys live in a city where they can—and likely will—be stopped and frisked by the police for simply being Black, and they live in a country where one in nine Black men will be incarcerated between the ages of 20 and 34. And as of last night, they live in a world where a White-passing 28-year old man can stalk, attack, and kill an unarmed Black boy, not be arrested and charged of any crimes for a month-and-a-half, publicly raise $460,000 for his legal fees, and walk away completely acquitted of all charges.
A friend of mine wrote on Facebook last night that she has an 8-year-old brother and that she’s scared of what’s in store for his future, of what might happen to him. I also have a younger brother. He’s almost 16. And although I worry the way older sisters do about whether he’s doing well at school, whether he’s making good choices in friends, and whether he’ll be prepared for his SAT, I will never need to worry the way my friend does for her brother. I will never need to worry whether someone will think he’s an intruder in our suburban Philadelphia neighborhood and violently pursue him because that’s not something that happens to upper-middle class Chinese boys. Only sisters of Black (and Latino) boys know what it’s like to worry about your brother that way in this country. I will never understand my friend’s type of anguish because this case isn’t as close to me as it is to her. And it never will be. We are not all Trayvon Martin. If we were, George Zimmerman never would have been allowed to leave the police station that night he murdered Trayvon and he wouldn’t be a free man today.
After the two boys on the subway moved on to the next car I thought about how often I had heard that same sales pitch since I moved to New York. Every Black boy who gets on the subway with a Welch’s Fruit Snack box recites the same few sentences, the most teling of which is that he’s selling candy here today so he can stay “off the streets” and “out of trouble”. I had always thought about this part of the pitch as a sympathetic marketing tactic. Who wouldn’t want to help young boys stay out of trouble? Plus you get candy. Thinking about it all today, I realized that this part these boys recite is not simply a way for them to sell more candy, but more importantly, a defensive maneuver. These boys, by virtue of being Black, need to first define themselves to a group of strangers as non-threatening and on the “right track”. In a society where you are presumed to be a criminal by merely existing as young, Black, and male in public, it is almost a requirement that you actively frame yourself as a nice, law-abiding citizen before attempting to move freely in the world. We live in a society where we expect Black boys with candy, moving around in their own neighborhoods, to ask us for permission to go carry along with their day by first proving to us that they are not dangerous. Trayvon was a Black boy with candy walking in his neighborhood who never asked us, never asked George Zimmerman, for permission to go about his day. And for that he was murdered, for the crime of being Black (and therefore a threat) without permission.
I am not Trayvon Martin. My brother is not Trayvon Martin. We are not all Trayvon Martin. But my friend’s little brother, he is Trayvon Martin. And those two boys on the L today, they are also Trayvon Martin. For all these boys and their families, that must be terrifying.
The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the VRA has proven effective… Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.
To boil it down, being gay [on TV] has become the latest excuse for being unabashedly racist.
No one is saying that he isn’t a hero. He helped save three women who were held captive — brutally — in his Cleveland neighborhood for over a decade. But the Internet’s instant meme-ification of this man — a lower-income black man talking about a horrible crime, played on repeat at the expense of stereotypes and with the blinders fully up about the truth — it’s all a little gross, no?
I’m too unconfident in myself. I saw this interview and was totally confused as to why people kept saying there would be memes of it. I thought I must’ve missed something obvious. Just waiting and waiting for “the punchline” only to reach the end and see that oh dang yo the punchline’s racism and classism and bullshit.
This man saved three women’s lives. He saved a child. HE RESCUED FOUR HUMAN BEINGS. He’s not a firefighter or a police officer. He was just a concerned neighbor acting on his instincts. And yeah, it’s shocking because he’s unknowingly barbecued and done NEIGHBOR things with these kidnappers, but we can take a big damn chill pill on his semantics and mannerisms and what must, in general, just be a crazy fucking day for him and focus on the SAVING PEOPLE who were supposed dead. Fuck all if anyone would make a meme of a white guy from Stamford who’d rescued someone.
we're screw-ups. I'm a screw-up and I plan to be a screw-up until my late 20s, maybe even my early 30s.
25-year-old east coast women's college graduate with a laptop and no original thoughts.