This is not going to sit well with a lot of people but it needs to be said. Unfortunately in 2016, the image of an African-American man is still deemed intimidating, dangerous and a threat to so many Americans who are threatened by it; and in this day and age, you can dress up in a sharp suit or just be casual, it is still something that I and many other African-American men cannot escape.
From women clutching their purses, to employees following us in the stores, to people crossing the street from us and yes, even calling the police because they fear that we are to do something to them; this is some of the unfortunate burdens that fall upon us as African-American men today in the society of the United States. Now, I say this because as my old Africana Studies Professor stated "the image of our color is the image of crime". We as African-American men [in great respect to the African-American women] have been the scapegoat when it comes to combating crime, focusing on the punitive versus intervention which can then lead to crime prevention.
Look at the cases of African-American men over the past 20 years and the number of police officers who are currently walking amongst society free, while the families of those who were slain by them are still grieving. The evidence is absolutely clear that if those where white families who sons were gunned down by African-American male police officers, well I can be very certain that they would not be walking the streets freely.
Why do I say this? Well because there is an issue that needs to be discussed and that is White Privilege. According to an article from an excerpted piece from Jennifer R. Holladay, White skin privilege is a transparent preference for whiteness that saturates our society. It serves several functions; first it provides white people with "perks" that we do not earn and that people of color do not enjoy. Second, it creates real advantages for us. White people are immune to a lot of challenges. Finally, white privilege shapes the world in which we live -- the way that we navigate and interact with one another and with the world..
Now let me be clear, and I am in agreement to an extent with the author as she states that white skin privilege is not something that white people necessarily do, create or enjoy on purpose; it is in my opinion an subconscious default that comes with the territory of, just being white. We see this when individuals try to open up a business and they need to take out a business loan; we see this when individuals try to get a good rate mortgage plan to buy a home; we see this when individuals go out to eat at a restaurant; when individuals are in school; on the job; when individuals shop in malls or small stores; we see this just about everywhere in the U.S.
A towards the end of 2014 after the unfortunate and disgusting decision of the officers of the Eric Gardner case, the Twittersphere went crazy when white Americans created the hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite to show how the eyes of justice are wide open and judgmental by the color of their skin. According to an article by Jessica Dickerson , she highlights some of those tweets of white Americans using such unconscious privilege such as:
1. Arrested for DUI, cop took me to drive through ATM so I'd have money to bail myself out. #crimingwhilewhite
2. Friend w/ suspended license gets flat tire/pulled over in someone else's car. Cop says he will use my license (passenger) #CrimingWhileWhite
3. Exhaled blunt smoke in a cop's face as I opened my door and then told him he couldn't come in without a warrant. He left.#CrimingWhileWhite
4. I was 20. Stopped by cop at gas station. Under the influence & underage. He flirted with me then let me drive home.#CrimingWhileWhite
These are some of the examples of how white Americans have shown that justice is blind to their color of their skin; they had the courage to highlight the crimes/violations that they have done and to show because of their bravery, that if an African-American had done such crimes, they wouldn't be able to brag about it on social media.
Which leads me to Mr. George Zimmerman.
According to USA today on May 13th, George Zimmerman decided to auction off the gun that was used to kill Trayvon Martin. Bidding on the 9 mm Kel-Tec PF-9 pistol began at $5,000 and reached more than $65 million early Friday. The top bidder at one point used the screen name "Racist McShootface." That account was later deleted. Another bidder used the name Tamir Rice, which is the name of a 12-year-old boy shot by police in Cleveland while carrying a toy gun. The most recent bid topping $65 million is by someone identified as Craig Bryant.
Several days later, according to an article by the NY Daily News Money changes everything, but George Zimmerman is still his same prickly self even after successfully selling the gun that killed Trayvon Martin for $250,000.The former Florida neighborhood watchman bragged to KTNV between puffs of a cigar and said that he has given the weapon to the anonymous winner of an online auction. Zimmerman, who was acquitted for shooting the unarmed 17-year-old in a 2013 trial, said that he was preparing to transport the 9mm to a buyer in Daytona before unexpectedly receiving a higher bid.
Now, I was at a loss of words as to what has happened and I didn't know how to feel. It wasn't until I saw my good friend and brother, Christopher Moye's Snapchat of him expressing his frustration and anger about this that compelled me to say something about this because this piece of news was not truly covered in mainstream media, no did I see any forms of major backlash by the American people.
Christopher said some very important things that we should all ask ourselves as Americans: 1. Where is the respect for the family of Trayvon Martin who now has to deal with insult to fatal injury by having a man who is boastfully walking amongst society free have the audacity to sell a gun that killed a man? 2. How cold-hearted you have to be to actually purchase the gun that killed another man for over $250,000; what does that say about you? 3. Will there ever come a day where justice will be justice?
George Zimmerman has no respect whatsoever as an American; he has truly maximized his 'white privilege' to really show that the "long arm of the law" is too short to box with him. Never in my 30 years of life thus far, in studying politics and the politics of my African-American community have I seen anyone stoop this low just to be in the spotlight, let alone disrespect the family of the person he killed.
What I find more disgusting and yet dangerous at the same time, is that there are hundreds of thousands of Americans who embodies his principles of bragging about their abuse of 'white privilege' and have the willpower, if provoked to kill an African-American if they feel threatened, regardless of how they are dressed or what actions they are doing.
I really, truly wonder, what is it about us as African-Americans that causes them to feel so much hatred; it lies deeper that what we are seeing on the media and I intend to figure it out as I begin research on such trigger effects.
I hope that the family of Trayvon Martin rise above this and shine brighter by being that family that sets the standard of rising above hate. Miles to go before we sleep.. in the name of freedom, justice and equality.