race, violence, and citizenship

The verdict in the George Zimmerman trial has left many drowning in its wake. Sorrow. Horror. Grief. Anger. And yet, also, predictability. There is, among the angry and impassioned responses, an almost matter-of-fact stoicism, because, after all, this verdict was nothing if not expected. And that, in the end, is perhaps the biggest tragedy.

I can’t write it as well as others have, and so instead, I offer a series of links:

Gary Younge, in the Guardian Online, who writes

Who screamed. Who was stronger. Who called whom what and when and why are all details to warm the heart of a cable news producer with 24 hours to fill. Strip them all away and the truth remains that Martin’s heart would still be beating if Zimmerman had not chased him down and shot him.

There is no doubt about who the aggressor was here. It appears that the only reason the two interacted at all, physically or otherwise, is that Zimmerman believed it was his civic duty to apprehend an innocent teenager who caused suspicion by his existence alone.

Tim Wise, on his blog:

Last night, and I am writing it down so that I will not forget — because I already know she will not — my oldest daughter, who attained the age of 12 only eleven days ago, became an American. Not in the legal sense. She was already that, born here, and — as a white child in a nation set up for people just like her — fully entitled to all the rights and privileges thereof, without much question or drama. But now she is American in the fullest and most horrible sense of that word, by which I mean she has been truly introduced to the workings of the system of which she is both a part, and, at the same time, merely an inheritor. A system that fails — with a near-unanimity almost incomprehensible to behold — to render justice to black peoples, the family of Trayvon Martin being only the latest battered by the machinations of American justice, but with all certainty not the last.

To watch her crumble, eyes swollen with tears too salty, too voluminous for her daddy to wipe away? Well now that is but the latest of my heartbreaks; to have to hold her, and tell her that everything will be OK, and to hear her respond, “No it won’t be!” Because see, even though she learned last night about injustice and even more than she knew before about the racial fault lines that divide her nation, she is still a bit too young to fully comprehend the notion of the marathon, as opposed to the sprint; to understand that this is a very long race, indeed that even 26.2 miles is but a crawl in the long distance struggle for justice. And that if she is as bothered by what she sees as it appears, well now she will have to put on some incredibly strong running shoes, because this, my dear, is the work.

Lisa Wade, on Sociological Images:

A finding of “justifiable homicide” is much more common in the case of a white-on-black killing than any other kind including a white and a black person.  As PBS’s request, Roman compared the likelihood of a favorable finding for the defendant in SYG and non SYG cases, consider the races of the people involved.  The data is clear, compared to white-on-white crimes, stand your ground increases the likelihood of a not-guilty finding, but only when a person is accused of killing a black person.

…a conclusion that might somehow “explain” (although not in any way justify, this).

Tim Wise and the Media Education Foundation are currently producing the film White Like Me. It’ll be out in Fall 2013. I’ll look forward to watching the whole thing, but in the meantime, here’s a 2:42 preview.

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1 comment
  1. Thank you for this, Sonja. Such articulate reflections on this heartbreaking case.

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