Talk to me when you’re white

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.

Zimmerman Tattoo Face-Media Bias

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 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.


22 thoughts on “Talk to me when you’re white

  1. I have been a some what different view on this case:

    – It is quite clear that Zimmerman did indeed profile Trayvon as a thug because of his racist views of African-Americans.

    – It was Zimmerman who chose to confront Martin after being instructed to stop following Martin by the 911 dispatcher

    – Hence it is reasonable to conclude that Zimmerman started the fight that led to his shooting Martin; thus causing the wrongful death of a minor African-black male who was only defending himself by standing his ground

    – It is also quite clear that the jury composed of 5 white women and 1 Hispanic woman ignored the key elements that showed Zimmerman to have placed himself in the position to shoot Martin in order to let Martin’s killer go free

    – Zimmerman actions clearly show that it was his negligence that led to Martin’s wrongful death under Florida’s Man Slaughter law

    – The claim that the jury followed the law and rendered a just verdict is not only patently false but an out right falsehood

    • Zimmerman followed Trayvon after being told “we don’t need you to do that” by the dispatcher, not the police. That was not an order. It was a statement.

      Zimmerman was not breaking the law by following a person he felt was being suspicious. Following Trayvon was admittedly a dumb move and probably caused the situation but at no point, did he break the law, just like Trayvon had not broken the law.

      The only ear-witness to know what Trayvon was doing at the time of the confrontation stated that Trayvon approached Zimmerman instead of going home or calling the police, himself.

      All injuries, other than the gun shot wound, indicate that it was a one-sided beating. Whether Zimmerman feared for his life or not is impossible to determine since none of us was there or able to read minds.

      It is a very sad case where two men let their testosterone dictate their actions instead of common sense. Both are at fault and one died as a result of it. Is it fair to place the blame solely on Zimmerman when the prosecution’s own case showed that he was being beaten by Trayvon?

      Following someone isn’t illegal. Period.

      • – Under the law Zimmerman is an adult male responsible for his own actions while Martin was considered to be a minor child on the cusp of manhood but a minor child none the less.

        – Zimmerman was armed with a deadly weapon and Martin wasn’t.

        Hence I’m more inclined to give Martin the benefit of the doubt while Zimmerman’s own actions tend to nullify any reasonable doubts as to his intention – I personally would have convicted Zimmerman of involuntary man slaughter had I been on the jury.

      • I assumed he would have been convicted of manslaughter and was surprised by the not-guilty verdict. However, I think that despite anyone’s age, gender, or race, the facts that were revealed showed that Zimmerman *could have* felt his life was in danger.

        I don’t believe that age has anything to do with the case and it has been used as an excuse to justify the actions Trayvon took that night. Both of them were idiots and one of them died.

        The jurors only had the evidence and charges that were presented to them. Involuntary manslaughter was not an option. The prosecution screwed up by not giving them the more appropriate lesser charge to choose from. That is not Zimmerman’s fault.

      • Also, there are hundreds of minor children aged 12-17 in prison right now because they were tried as adults for their crimes. 17 yrs old is not the same as 7 yrs old. Trayvon may have been a minor but he was already a man.

  2. Because Martin told the individual he was talking to on his cell phone that he was being followed by a creepy white cracker I believe that Martin was in fear of his life by someone stalking him. Nor does Martin’s actions justify Zimmerman nor negate the fact that Zimmerman purposely placed himself in a position to fear for his life – making it far more reasonable to believe that Zimmerman manipulated circumstances in order to claim self defense than it is to believe that Martin intended to take his life.

    Perhaps the next time someone spots an Hispanic walking through their neighborhood and chooses to shoot first and ask questions later – because of this case – American’s can then have an honest discussion of the underlying racial stereotypes and bigotry unpinning both the white and hispanic communities.

    • If, Martin was afraid, he wouldn’t have gone back to confront the man he was “afraid” of. Zimmerman had not said anything to Martin before he was confronted. He was simply following him to give the police an accurate location or to keep an eye on him. Granted, its a stupid thing to do if you think someone is up to no good or being suspicious. But, I cannot sit here and speculate that Zimmerman is a genius mastermind criminal that saw an opportunity to act on his utter hate for the black race by following and shooting an innocent kid while planning the whole self-defense claim/scenario in his mind and simultaneously staying on the phone with 911 dispatch.

      I have to ask: are you as outraged over the case in the courts right now in which a teenage black kid shot & killed a 13 month old baby after robbing and shooting the baby’s mother? The baby was “white-hispanic”. He was innocent. Where is the outrage & publicity for that case?

      • I haven’t even heard of that case until someone mentioned it on face Book. As tragic as that case is my view is that turn about is fair play – why should blacks who kill whites or hispanic’s be punished any differently from a white or hispanic who kills a black person. Indeed historically a black male who murders a white person is more likely to be executed that a white person is for murdering a black person.

        Not long after a majority black jury refused to convict O J Simpson for the murder of his wife and another person. A majority white jury refused to convict a white women who shot her black husband as he walked in through the door of their home after returning from a motorcycle trip.

      • “As tragic as that case is my view is that turn about is fair play”
        What? So its tragic and unjust for a man to shoot a 17 yr old who was beating the shit out of him but its fair play when a black teen shoots a 13 MONTH old baby sitting in his stroller?
        Thats unbelievable.

    • And you have really missed the point of my blog post. The post was not really about the case. It was about the emotion and reaction to the verdict that has boiled out of control. This…is what I was writing about. Not the facts of the case.

  3. I hold everyone to the exact same standard. There are plenty of 12 – 16 yr old girls who are fully developed women yet any adult male who dares to sleep with one will be charged with statutory rape and forced to register as a sex offender. Perhaps a female should be denied the right to vote and a to apply for a drivers permit until she reaches the age of consent and can be held accountable for her choice of sexual partners.

    OH wait a minute our society refuses to hold women accountable for their actions no matter how old they are. My bad!

    If you want to argue that Martin was a man despite the fact that he could not legally vote nor drink then you will have to hold women to that exact same standard as well. Any argument that fails to do so is an dishonest argument.

    • I’m not comprehending the comparison you are trying to make. First, the consent laws in each state are different. In my state, consensual sex begins at age 13. In others, its 16. Also, a 17 yr old is not banned from having sex with other minors of consensual age.
      How did this debate/conversation go from what I wrote about, to the actual trial of GZ, to holding girls & women responsible for their sexual actions?

      • It went there because you insist on holding a seventeen year old minor boy to the exact same standard of accountability as his adult killer. Here in the state of Georgia it is an automatic 25 yr sentence to sleep with a minor girl four years younger then the accused. And the age of consent is 17 unless its a teacher sleeping with one of their students or any other adult in a position of authority over his 17 yr old paramour.

      • His age does not matter. His actions were not that of a scared little boy. He approached, physically assaulted, and beat the hell out of a man because the man was following him. Those are not things little boys, afraid of a bad man following them, do.

  4. Re: So its tragic and unjust for a man to shoot a 17 yr old who was beating the shit out of him but its fair play when a black teen shoots a 13 MONTH old baby sitting in his stroller?

    Nope! Both cases are tragic and the killers should be punished but if one is going to argue not punishing or giving a lighter punishment to those of one race over another. Than it is hypocritical to argue the exact opposite when the races are reversed.

    • No. The merits, facts, and circumstances in the case dictate the punishment. You seem to ONLY be looking at the race and age factors instead of the overall facts that were presented.
      In the case of the toddler being shot, the “minor” who shot him had no remorse & laughed about it after. He didn’t call the police, he tried to hide the evidence. His shots were fired because he either had no regard for life or because he didn’t get enough money when he robbed the mother.
      Two different cases…two different sets of circumstances/motives. Race doesn’t matter in either. The character of the individual who’s being charged is relevant.

      • Unfortunately race does indeed matter and violence and lack of empathy engenders the same in those who are forced to endure it. In other words the very same racism indulged in by African-Americans towards whites was taught to them by the very whites who abused them and those who chose to remain silent.

        Especially since it wasn’t all that long ago when all white southern juries used to refuse to convict whites who murdered African-Americans in spite of the evidence of their guilt. As I said turn about is fair play and it is hypocritical to argue against blacks doing the same thing that was done and is still being done to them.

        Things will only get better between the races when enough whites and hispanics chose to repudiate the racism unpinning their communities and chose to apply the exact same standards to themselves that they insist on applying to others.

      • Interesting that you are excusing racism based on the argument that they learned it from racist whites. Using that logic, child molesters would go free bc they learned it from their own molester and abusers would be excused bc they were, themselves, abused.

  5. My argument is really quite simple but requires this country to finely live up to its own stated principles and apply the rule of law equally and fairly to all. Unfortunately White people have a habit of applying the law harshly when it comes to minorities; only to scream bloody murder when these same groups decide to get a little payback by applying the law in the exact same manner against whites that has always been done to them.

  6. In other words just as the Bible says – “God is not mocked whatsoever you sow that shall you reap” – would happen: Whites are only reaping what they sowed.

  7. Hi! This post mentioned my article on Trayvon Martin and White privilege as a “related article” so I was reading through. I think you bring up some excellent points and highlight one of the bigger schisms in this country between the upper/ middle/ and lower classes. That said, I’m not sure the concept of “white privilege” is referring to actual socio economic/ monetary privilege as there’s NO question that anyone (regardless of race) who is born into poverty in this country is at a complete disadvantage… systems are not in place to address the cycle of poverty even a little bit… I completely agree.

    White privilege refers to the simple benefit of the doubt that a white person is given over a person of color. If I were to insert two individuals from the same socio economic background into the same scenario, the white person would hold a distinct advantage simply by nature of his/ her race. I.e. two poor homeless people walk into a store, and I suspect the person of color will be the one followed by security. I would never describe this person as “privileged” but statistics are pretty clear that someone with white skin will have the social advantage over someone with brown skin. Certainly there are millions of exceptions, but on the broadest of spectrums, the reality of white privilege is all too true. I think the heartfelt and personal accounts of which you write have much more to do with class than race (sadly there is often an intersection of these two in our society… so more people of color are poor), but I agree that it’s hard to recognize the ‘advantage’ of being white when the basic needs of survival aren’t being met… which it sounds like was the circumstance of your childhood. Thanks for putting this viewpoint out there and continuing the difficult discussion of race that this case has highlighted.

    • Thank you for your views. I agree that there are broader points of “white privilege” that I did not address here. I guess I just feel like the skin color advantage that whites used to have is minimal, at best, these days. My overall point in my post was to address the issue that with regard to socioeconomic status, whites do not have an advantage over blacks. Just the opposite. There are more programs and advocates available to black families struggling to pay bills, buy food, etc than white families can dream of. This is the point I was trying to make.
      If we really want to address the race issue, we have to make EVERYTHING equal for everyone.
      I feel like we have tried so hard to make things better for minorities that we have made things worse for everyone else.
      Pardon my poor comparison, but think of it in terms of a family that has a child that has more issues the family must deal with than the other kids. The other kids will begin to feel left out, ignored, and eventually they will begin to act out or rebel because all of the special attention is being given to that one child.
      Its a poor analogy, I know. But its the closest thing I can use that will simply explain my point of view.
      Thanks again for the comment and viewpoint. 🙂

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