Reflections on the Martin/Zimmerman Case (Carlson)

Jeff Carlson originally posted the following reflection on his Facebook page, and he has agreed to share it here as well. At the end, I add a few articles for additional reading. It might be helpful to know that Jeff is a young adult white male who works for the SDA Church.

Okay, this is the last thing I’m going to post about the trial, I think. But I guess it took me a while to work through why I was so upset about the whole thing, and I’m sorry for any of you who were offended watching me work through it publicly…. Here’s my final statement:

We know Zimmerman is an idiot who took it on himself to play Batman and then responded to a fist fight–regardless of who started it–by shooting the other guy who wasn’t even armed. He most likely lied–Trayvon’s fingerprints weren’t on the gun though Zimmerman claims Trayvon grabbed the gun, and Trayvon had no blood on his hands though Zimmerman claimed he beat him in the face continually. Noses bleed like a hose once they start.

We have no idea what Trayvon did that night since we are left with only the story of a guy who only stands to benefit from Trayvon being the “bad guy” and seems to have lied in certain aspects of the situation that are verifiable.

But with Trayvon we are dealing with a much more blank slate where we get to paint our own picture of reality and our biases–not all biases are incorrect–show up quickly. But the fact that this many people commenting on my page keep trying to split the difference morally between the two shows very clearly what they thinks of Trayvon, that Trayvon was a “f***ing punk” who though tragic, kinda got what he deserved by picking a fight–again, nothing really supports this other than conjecture. Why do we assume this kid was the one who picked the fight? And even if he did take a swing at a guy who was aggressively following him in the dark with a gun, does that therefore make it okay that Zimmerman shot him?

What a lot of us are angry about is not necessarily that Zimmerman didn’t get convicted, the laws in Florida are screwy, but many people commenting on my page continue to make huge assumptions about Trayvon, the same assumptions that made Zimmerman get out of his car and follow him with a gun. People keep bringing up things that Trayvon said on Twitter or pictures he posted to say that he was a thug who obviously got what was coming to him: Just because he used Marijuana–if he truly did, used the word bitch and hoe, and even took a picture with gold teeth doesn’t mean he was therefore, an F**** PUNK. I did most of those things when I was a teenager–sans the gold teeth–and if I was walking through a neighborhood at night, which I did all the time in Cali, I would never have been followed in the dark by a guy with a gun. I didn’t look suspicious. What was different between Trayvon and me?

I lived there in Cali and was never challenged for wandering (and rollerblading) through really affluent neighborhoods where I clearly didn’t live, even at night. Never challenged and asked, “Why are you here?” And certainly not by a guy with a loaded weapon who assumed I was a “f***ing punk.”

My frustration is that though Zimmerman probably was given the correct ruling legally according to Florida’s ridiculous laws, people can’t see how the whole incident started based on horrible assumptions that people like me simply never have to deal with, assumptions I see people continue to make on my posts.

I’d love life in America to be fair across the board and for us all to have the same experience, but it’s not. Just because you aren’t racist doesn’t mean that your life experience and the experience of Trayvon are the same. My black friends were taught growing up that if you walk around at night this kind of thing could happen, if you wear your hood this could happen, etc. I wasn’t taught that because as a white baby-faced male, I was never viewed as a threat, even though I used drugs–hard stuff, not just marijuana–in high school, and even engaged in vandalism at times. No one looked twice when I walked through a neighborhood at night.

I’m not talking affirmative action; I’m talking about a very real reality that most anyone growing up black and male will tell you if they think you’re safe. If we can’t even acknowledge that this is normal life for black males regardless of who they REALLY are, we will never be able to change it.

In a perfect world, Trayvon should have been able to walk down that street with his hood up, just like I am able, and not be suspected of anything unless he really started doing something truly suspicious… in that case confront him, that’s fine. That’s not life now, but I guess I’d like to try to push us in that direction by at least helping people see that this discrepancy in assumptions does in fact exist.

– – –

Additional Reading

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2 Responses to Reflections on the Martin/Zimmerman Case (Carlson)

  1. Jeff Boyd says:

    Nekeisha Alexis-Baker submitted this comment:

    The huge elephant in the room is that Zimmerman started the chase to begin with because Trayvon was “suspicious” and the only thing triggering his “suspicion” is Trayvon’s dark skin. Everyone is talking about Trayvon’s personal life–his interaction on social media, his photos–but Zimmerman didn’t go after Trayvon because he knew these things. Zimmerman went after him because he has a hero complex that this society rewards and that no one, including law enforcement, put in check–and because he is a card-carrying member of a white racist superstructure. I hope people are paying equal attention to Zimmerman’s online activities because wouldn’t you know if it doesn’t reflect what an arrogant racist bully he was: Why aren’t all the people who are so obsessed with the normal albeit immature postings of a teenager not nearly as interested in the derogatory rantings of the adult who shot and killed a teenager under suspicious, racially-charged circumstances?

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