The internet’s been ablaze with talk of George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the murder of Trayvon Martin. It’s been on my mind so much that not acknowledging it in a space where I often write about politics and civil discourse seems disingenuous.
We live in a country where a gun gets drawn on a black man playing guitar in the park because he “looks suspicious” and some black men take care to appear especially non-threatening in order not to get shot when they get pulled over.
There’s no denying racism is still a serious issue in this country.
Everything I try to write about this reeks of privileged white guilt. “It’s so terrible that these black men are treated this way. I’m so stressed out about it I thought about it during yoga and then wrote about it on the Internet while sipping a decent Malbec.” Then I delete what I just wrote because, really, me? You’re that person now?
But then I roll my eyes so hard at my own navel-gazing that I get whiplash because, yes, really I am that person and it’s obnoxious to pretend otherwise even though being honest makes me sound like a smug, entitled idiot.
Generally speaking I’m inclined to think, in terms of problem solving effectiveness, online “awareness raising” is up there with beauty queens wanting world peace. But discussions like this one are the exception.
The fact is I’m a white woman who lives in a state where just 3.6% of the population is black. It is easy not see the realities of racism especially for the African American community. But choosing not to acknowledge your own privilege is irresponsible; I need my awareness raised because it’s not like race relations are something that I have no part in. By the same token it would be more than a little ridiculous for me to sit here and wax philosophical about the plight of African American male as if I were any kind of authority on the subject.
Instead I’m going to share some articles addressing the issues raised by the Trayvon Martin case that have really made me think:
Ta-Nehisi Coates has written some great pieces for “The Atlantic” about the case for the past year, most recently this one.