Trayvon Martin would not have been shot if he had been white.
I believe this. I believe George Zimmerman would not have felt “threatened” by a white teenager in a hoodie. And if Z. hadn’t felt threatened, he likely wouldn’t have followed M. The do-or-die confrontation would not have happened. And an innocent skittles and pop buying teenager would still be alive.
It was Trayvon’s blackness that aroused fear in Z. “What was a black kid doing in my neighborhood?” Z. said as much in his 911 call to the police.
I wish Trayvon was still alive. I wish GZ had obeyed the police when they told him to not get out of his car. And I damn wish GZ hadn’t had a gun in the first place. And like many I wonder, “Would GZ have been convicted had he’d been black and Trayvon white?” My answer to that question makes me furious.
At the same time – a jury, composed of people like you and me – found GZ not guilty. Should the state have brought different charges? Perhaps. Did they overreach in the first place? Maybe.
Do I believe there is something broken in our system? Yes. There is something deeply flawed in our policies that is creating a perpetual “under caste” system in the words of Michelle Alexander. And I believe that broken system is riddled with racism. In small ways, I’ve seen it up close but always “safely” since as a middle class white woman my odds of being sucked into the system are low.
Still, it feels to me like the jury that aquitted is not the enemy. And they are not the ones on whom I will wail. Instead I’m going to focus on what I’ve focused on all along, what I believe are the underlying causes of this tragedy: our fear of the “other” and the illusion that guns make us safer.