Since the Not Guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman shooting death of Trayvon Martin, our country has been in turmoil. A case that should have been about whether a man had the right to defend himself with deadly force has turned into a witch hunt because the guy he was defending himself from was a young, black male. George Zimmerman stupidly followed a black guy through a gated community’s neighborhood because he thought that guy looked suspicious. Turns out, Trayvon Martin was using a “shortcut” to get to his own home after stopping at the store to buy a snack and drink. Trayvon Martin stupidly confronted the guy following him and proceeded to physically assault that guy with a, possibly, justified beat down. Those are the facts of the case. Everything else is just speculation. Did Zimmerman feel that his life was in danger? Did Trayvon have the right to approach and start a fight with Zimmerman because he was being followed? Can any of us go back to that moment and get inside the minds of those two individuals to feel and think what they were thinking that night? Can anyone prove that Zimmerman did not feel his life was in danger? Can anyone prove that Trayvon intended to teach Zimmerman a lesson but would have stopped before killing him?
I’m not going to rehash the details and evidence presented by the prosecution and defense teams during the trial. I’m not going to make a huge deal out of the fact that the prosecution’s own case pointed toward the fact that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor and that George Zimmerman could not have known, beforehand, that Trayvon was just going to beat him up and then mosey on home like nothing happened. Allegedly, in Zimmerman’s eyes, he was being beaten to death and had to survive. What I am really interested in is the response that the trial and verdict evoked from, normally, rational and level-headed people.
The media and racial dividers such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have grasped onto this case and turned it into something it never was. The police and FBI investigated the case to determine if racial prejudice was involved in Zimmerman’s motive to follow or shoot Trayvon, but found nothing to substantiate that claim. On social media and in the protests being held, the overall message has been “white people will never understand what it’s like because white people have advantages that blacks do not have.” That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I have been told by a lot of people, recently, that I have been blessed with white privilege throughout my life. Let me enlighten those ignorant people with a few facts about how, many, white people grow up in this country. Millions of children are born white and raised the way I was, but have never known what it is like to be given every opportunity to excel through government programs and celebrity advocates. There are no special programs aimed at helping white kids get out of poverty. There are no specific grants or advocacy groups whose sole purpose is the assistance for white families. Poor white kids are left to the mercy of their parents and a government that has forgotten about them because they are not black.
I grew up as a poor white kid. I went to a school where I was the minority. I didn’t have new clothes or name brand shoes. We lived on welfare and in run-down houses infested with cockroaches and rats. My mother was a drug addict who worked at bars and topless clubs for tips. My father was… well, gone. We struggled for food and the basic necessities such as toilet paper. Standing in line for food stamps was a regular thing. Blocks of cheese, given to us by the government, was a major staple of our diet. We ate a lot of potatoes and beans because those were the foods that we could afford after most of the foodstamps we received were sold for cash to buy drugs and alcohol.
Never, while walking into the bathroom to pee, did I say to myself, “Wow, I sure am glad there’s a (hopefully) clean sock on the floor to wipe with instead of a roll of toilet paper. We sure are privileged.”. I can’t ever remember lying in bed, surrounded by the sound of cockroaches flying and crawling around on the walls and floor, and thinking about how lucky we were to have such an advantage over everyone else because we were white. When I opened up my box of generic Rice Krispies in the morning and had to chase out the bugs before I poured it in the bowl, I don’t think I can recall ever being grateful for all the people out there that were looking out for me because I was white. When I cried for hours at a time because my mom had left the house without saying a word to anyone, leaving me alone with my toddler and infant brothers for days, when I was barely old enough to stay home by myself; I know I never figured it was all because we were so lucky to be white.
Now that I am an adult I hear the “white privilege” and “talk to me when you’re black” comments being thrown my way, on a daily basis. It angers me to hear statements like this being made because I know there are so many advantages given to “minorities” that us regular white kids weren’t eligible to receive. I know that I grew up wishing for something or someone to come along and rescue me from that life. I didn’t look to the black kids in my school, wearing Nike or Converse tennis shoes and name-brand clothes, and hate them because they had it better than me. I didn’t blame them for my family’s misfortunes. I never got angry that they had opportunities that I did not. I never accused them of being full of hate and prejudice toward white people when they called me “whitey” or “cracker” or when I was ganged up on in school by a group of black kids because I was white.
Our country has spent so much time trying to make up for the transgressions of the past through special treatment and advantages, called Affirmative Action and geared toward the black community, that it has forgotten about the rest of the children and families struggling to survive. The media drives a narrative that says blacks are treated unfairly through things like profiling and unnecessary stops by police. Perhaps this is true in some instances, but are the actions of a few the views of the many? If a black man shoots a “white-hispanic” baby in the face, killing him instantly during the robbery of the baby’s mother, does that mean all black men are robbers or killers? Why are the, admittedly, foolish actions of a “white-hispanic” man being used to accuse all whites of racism; after he was tried by a jury and found to have been justified in his actions? Is the the system of justice we have in this country only considered “Just” when it stands on the side of a black person?
I don’t hold any form of hate or prejudice toward blacks or any other race, for that matter. I think we should all be treated equally because that is what this country is supposed to be about. I do not believe whites or blacks should be given any advantages that are not readily available to everyone. Each person should be able to achieve what they are capable of achieving without being accused or suspected of having some hidden advantage over other people. I believe that this country has moved past the oppression and discriminatory practices of the past, for the most part. There are positions of power and success being held by people of all colors and backgrounds who made their own successes possible without help from anyone. Yet, we continue to pretend that we are back in the 50’s and 60’s, when people openly treated blacks with hate and disgust. The difference between now and then is that we have made it acceptable for “people of color” to openly insult, use racial slurs, and hateful words to describe white people as penance for our ancestors actions. Our country has closed its eyes to the growing trend of “it’s okay to hate another race as long as you aren’t white”.
This is America; the United States of America. But, we are not united. We are divided. We have intentionally divided ourselves, over the past 50 years, into two groups: blacks and non-blacks.
One group has the privilege to say whatever they want about the other group. They have powerful organizations and advocates looking out for their rights and seeking justice on their behalf. They have all of the same opportunities that the other group has to succeed but also have a choice to accept help from those organizations if they need it. Their successes are made public and celebrated by all. Their failures are blamed on and used as ammunition toward the other group.
The other group is expected to feel immense guilt and shame for their existence because they have been blessed with being born to parents of a specific color. All of their personal achievements in life are chalked up to their privileged existence and the benefits they receive from that. They are limited on the things they say and do so as not to seem like they are purposely trying to oppress or offend the other group. There are no advocacy groups or powerful organizations that represent their rights and freedoms. If they try to defend their own rights they are demonized by the media and the other group’s protesting.
Wonder which group is the one being treated unjustly?
Stop the racism. It is never justified for ANYONE to use race to attack, accuse, or shame someone else.
- Trayvon Martin’s father speaks at Miami rally (usnews.nbcnews.com)
- Jay Z and Beyoncé attend Trayvon Martin protest in New York (guardian.co.uk)
- TIME Mag: One Good Thing About Zimmerman Verdict Is Exposing White Privilege (thegatewaypundit.com)
- Trayvon Martin, White Privilege And Subconscious Racism (ciburbanity.com)
- Protests in US at Zimmerman verdict (bbc.co.uk)
- Charles Barkley: Jury was right to acquit George Zimmerman (al.com)