Sunday, June 30, 2013

Between a Rock and a Racist Place

With the George Zimmerman murder trial kicking into high gear, discussion of racism and racist elements in American culture is at a high level.

Now, there are racist people, and there are people who aren't racist. Of course. This goes for people from all walks of life; liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans. You'll find racists and non-racists in each group.

The problem I have is as follows: certain racist people think that they can be as racist as they want, and when they get called out for being racist, they come back acting the victim, claiming their accuser is "playing the race card". This reminds me very much of bullies in high school. They will bully you relentlessly, and the moment you try to talk or fight back, they run to the teacher and say "topspin1617 is being a bully to me!"

I've been spending some time reading through comments and analysis of testimony from the Zimmerman case, and it greatly saddens me. There are clearly people who are extremely racist who have taken a great interest in seeing Zimmerman acquitted. To be clear, I'm not talking about every Zimmerman supporter; I realize that there are many people who think Zimmerman is just not guilty based on the evidence, regardless of the fact that Trayvon Martin was black. That's perfectly fine; I may not share the opinion that Zimmerman is innocent, but I respect the fact that others may have a different viewpoint from my own.

Read the comment section on any article about the case on, for example, Yahoo! (yes, yes, I know I call Yahoo! out a lot) and you'll see what I'm talking about. Here's a link to one such article, this one specifically about the testimony from Rachel Jeantel. Browse through the comments and you'll find no shortage of people calling her "ghetto" among other insults, not that whether or not she is "ghetto" has any relevance to the trial. This is bad enough, but what annoys me even more are the comments made against people who call out these racist remarks. Apparently, it's okay to make racist remarks, but calling out a person who makes such a remark is unacceptable. It means you're being racist against whites. It means you want Zimmerman convicted simply because Martin was black.

This is the mentality that is driving a wedge right down the center of American culture. To many of us, it is not okay to be racist. To many others, however, it is not okay to call out someone else for overtly being racist. This is a divide that seems to have no easy solution, as the two positions are in such combative opposition to each other that even bringing the topic up lights the proverbial powder keg.

It saddens me that this is what America is today. I look at the Zimmerman trial and see a man on trial for gunning down an unarmed teenager walking to his father's house from the store. I won't pretend to know exactly what happened that tragic night, but in my opinion the evidence supports that Zimmerman was guilty of provoking the confrontation that led to the end of Martin's life, making him guilty of at least manslaughter. This does not make me racist against whites (even though Zimmerman isn't even really white), nor does it make me biased in favor of blacks. You may disagree with me on the evidence of the case, and think that Trayvon was the one that started the fight; again, this does not make you racist. This trial is extremely racially charged, but people need to realize that it is possible to have an opinion on the case without being racially biased one way or the other. Once people realize this, I think it may finally be possible to have a civil conversation about the trial, and maybe other matters facing our country as well.

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