Whether most Americans like to admit it or not, there is still belief among a large segment of the population that race determines superiority, or inferiority, and that a person’s inborn biological characteristics predetermines their social and moral traits. Racism’s primary characteristic is the belief that another person is less than human based on skin color that they presume reveals the basic nature of that person, and there are indications that when George Zimmerman set out stalking Trayvon Martin the night he shot and killed him, racism played a key role in the tragedy.
Without knowing what went through jurors’ minds when they elected to acquit Zimmerman, it is only conjecture that they considered the teen’s race when weighing whether or not Zimmerman was justified in ending Martin’s life. What is abundantly clear, is that it is time to call out the blatant racism that has been in vogue since the day after Barack Obama was first elected President, and instead of being a turning point in racial America, it ushered in a new round of racial animus Republicans took advantage of when Congress defunded ACORN, continued unabated with Republican’s African American voter disenfranchisement the racist conservative Court gave their blessings to, and punctuated with Zimmerman’s acquittal last Saturday in Florida.
President Obama said that “we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken” and that “we should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this.” The President certainly is right a jury spoke, and Americans do have to accept it, but they do not have to like it and unfortunately there is little any American can do to prevent future tragedies like Trayvon Martin’s death. Regardless the Florida laws that led to the jury’s decision, it is the mindset among racially motivated Americans that informs racism and racial profiling is a plague on this nation and it is legal to stalk and kill unarmed African American youth, because that is the signal the “nation of laws” jury sent the public. The President wisely said he would not get involved in the Department of Justice’s decision to investigate the stalking and murder as a civil rights issue because he is aware that just speaking to the nation about the case inflamed the racists as much as his occupancy in the White House. If Americans have learned nothing else in the four-and-a-half years President Obama has been in the Oval Office, it is that despite the rampant racism in the population and GOP in particularly, it is forbidden to point out racial animus among a larger percentage of the population than anyone likes to admit.
The legitimate fear among many Americans that the Zimmerman verdict gives racially driven vigilantes free rein to kill unarmed African American youth is in part because of the institutionalized racism plaguing this country. Republicans and extremist conservatives have called for race war, Confederate states pant to secede over an African American occupying the White House, and Republican opposition to everything the African American President supports are indicators racism is alive and thriving in America. The rise of White Supremacist hate groups across the country and conservative pundits and Republican politicians taking up a Ku Klux Klan’s slogan are all demonstrable signs that racism is on the ascendance and unlikely to change making the President’s plea to seek ways to prevent tragedies like Trayvon Martin’s killing a touching sentiment, but that is all it is.
There is statistical proof that America is geared toward racism based on some indisputable facts, and that it is institutionalized in the Republican Party is best noted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s claim that the GOP’s primary mission was limiting President Obama to one term. Regardless the President supported myriad Republican policies, Republican obstruction was meant to portray the African American President as incompetent to teach the rest of America that white supremacy is indeed a verifiable fact of life and that an African American was incapable of leading the nation. There are plenty of other statistics that bear out many pundits’ contention that institutional racism is widespread such as there are more African Americans are in prison now then there were slaves in 1870, or in South African prisons during the height of Apartheid. African Americans are four times as likely to be arrested and convicted for something as benign as marijuana possession than their white counterparts despite they use the weed at similar rates according to the American Bar Association. It is also not happenstance that African American students are more likely to be suspended or have their public schools shuttered that is not happening to their white cohort in states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Washington D.C., and those are probably representative of more states than Americans are aware of or the media reports.
That racism is prevalent in America cannot be understated, and as a law professor at the Ohio State University, Michelle Alexander, so aptly noted the problem with the Trayvon Martin killing is not that George Zimmerman should have been found guilty, but his “mindset that views black men and boys as nothing but a threat, good for nothing, up to no good no matter who they are or what they are doing” must be condemned. However, there is another segment of the population that is founded in the belief that the white race is inherently superior and it has been propagated by Republicans over the past four-and-a-half years with their claims the President of the United States is illegitimate and “nothing but a threat, good for nothing, up to no good no matter who he is or what he is doing” and it is part and parcel of a long-festering belief in supremacy of the white race and why, despite the President’s plea, Americans will never prevent tragedies like the Trayvon Martin killing from recurring over and over again.
It is time high time for Americans to call out white supremacy and racism in all its forms regardless the certain attacks by conservatives and Republican Party faithful screaming those identifying blatant and dog-whistle racism are racists. They have controlled the narrative for too long and it is why a man like George Zimmerman saw an African American boy walking down the street and told a police dispatcher he was “real suspicious” and “up to no good. He’s just walking around, he looks black…late teens” and then proceeded to stalk, confront, and kill him. It is an abject tragedy that many Americans with Zimmerman’s mindset will find millions of young African American boys “just walking around” and automatically assume they are “real suspicious” and “up to no good,” and with the proliferation of guns and stand your ground laws to protect them guarantee that the events the led to Trayvon Martin’s death will be repeated all over America. President Obama’s appeal “to respect the call for calm reflection” was important and well-heeded by everyone except conservative white supremacists who were certain African Americans would be rioting in the streets and it informs that they are the Americans who are “real suspicious and up to no good.”
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.