Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Excuse Me As I Justify

As the attempts to discredit Trayvon Martin have grown in intensity and frequency since his death something has become obvious. It is not that George Zimmerman had no reason to fear for his life during his brief encounter with Trayvon because he might have truly been in danger. It is not that Al Sharpton's name is still an epithet to many white folks. That is beyond obvious.

What has become clear as pundits and amateur sleuths have tried to fine some way to slander Trayvon is that white people believe deeply that their fears are justified. They believe that their mistreatment of minorities is beyond reproach. They believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they and their ancestors have mostly made the right decisions.

That is why Trayvon's memory has been attacked. Though the rationale offered is about balancing sympathetic media coverage, or discovering the truth, that's a smokescreen. Martin's history wasn't known to Zimmerman as he walked through that neighborhood. There is no evidence that he was "high" or stealing. He was just walking. And that action, combined with all the "truths" known about black men, is what led him to be deemed suspicious.

Trayvon may have enjoyed marijuana. He may have postured like a gangsta with friends. He may have even stolen things on occasion. But George Zimmerman did not know that as he approached him on that rainy street. Besides his "gut" feeling that Trayvon was trouble and he had no other reason to deem the teen suspicious and initiate contact.. But, the truth is that many white people think that gut feeling was perfectly reasonable.

This was evident in the blatantly racist column written by John Derbyshire that outlined exactly how white children should handle black folks. It was obvious in the comments made by conservative pundits railing against the unfairness of the whole situation for George Zimmerman.

Behind the calls for truth and transparency is the belief that Trayvon deserved to be questioned and feared. Geraldo basically made that point when he ranted about hoodies. Despite statistics that show that most white people are victimized by other white people, certain folks believe that they know the face of crime, they've always known the face of crime and that face doesn't look like them.

That belief justifies certain "precautions". It justifies certain laws and practices. Racial profiling isn't racism, it's good police work. Discrimination isn't immoral, it's just nipping problems in the bud before they can truly blossom. Trayvon Martin's death may have been a tragedy, but you can't make an omelet without hurting Humpty Dumpty.

This mindset inflames and poisons racial discussions. It causes people to defend positions that are illogical and immoral. Ultimately, it just makes things worse. But the blame for that rarely falls on white folks, instead it gets placed on the backs of black people. White people are behaving sensibly, black people are behaving emotionally.

And that's how evil gets justified.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Just Say It

If a man treats women like second class citizens simply because they have a vagina, it's easy to call him a sexist. When someone fondles little boys or little girls, no one hesitates to use the word pedophile. Someone who practices domestic violence is an abuser. Someone who tells lies is a liar. And someone who steals is a thief.

But, a person who practices racism can't be labeled a racist unless you know exactly what's in their head the moment they do their dastardly deed. Without that knowledge of their "hearts" it's impossible to label them a racist.

Am I the only one confused?

There are few things I hate more in this world than the belief that it's unfair to call someone a racist simply because they behave like one. Few other activities receive this sort of blanket protection. In fact, I'm hardpressed to think of any. Everyone understands that the surest way to gain insight into someone's character is to assess their actions, except when you're trying to determine whether or not they racist. That's when you have to break out the telepathy.

The common practice of requiring mind reading to levy a claim of racism is asinine. It sets an impossible standard for discussing a serious and prevalent problem, and pretty much insures that racism will be allowed to flourish and grow. There is no way to confront racism because no one is a racist.

As I've said before in this space, this is a byproduct of our society's inability to apply critical thinking to discussions involving race. Moreover, it's more proof that when white people are uncomfortable, the world has to change. White people don't like the word racist, and now everybody in the world is skittish about using it because they want white people to pay attention. It's one of the most incredible examples of white privilege you'll ever run across.

The truth is, I don't care about what's in people's hearts. I'll never know what's in their hearts. I can only judge them based on the way they behave. And if they behave like racists, we need to be willing and able to call them racists. Otherwise, what's the point?


Raving Black Lunatic