After being found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman is the focus of intense criticism, especially from groups who have painted him as a "white oppressor." Of course, Zimmerman's mother is Peruvian, which isn't exactly "white" by...
Welcome to a special George Zimmerman trial edition of This Week in Racism. I’ll be ranking news stories on a scale of 1 to RACIST, with “1” being the least racist and “RACIST” being the most racist.
UPDATED ON JULY 14 AT 4:05 PM EST
- The worst case scenario for race relations came true and George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges by a jury of his peers in Florida. Despite evidence that Zimmerman shot an unarmed child who was almost 100 pounds lighter than him and had a history of run-ins with the police, he was not punished for ending Trayvon Martin's life. This occurred in the same state where a black woman could be sentenced to 20 years in prison for not shooting someone.
Pundits on both sides of the cultural divide have found signifcance in this outcome. The black community and sympathetic, liberal whites see this as yet another example of the prejudice inherent in the American judicial system. A white man has gotten away with a vigilante murder against a black child. Conservatives are applauding the decision because it not only reaffirms what they believe is the right to defend yourself with deadly force, but also focuses on their vision of an America that demonizes white people and unfairly paints blacks as victims. The problem with this narrative is that it's predicated on a lie.
The American news media, purveyors of truth and your only source for all the developments in the exciting life of Justin Bieber, continues to call George Zimmerman white. From the moment Trayvon Martin died at Zimmerman’s hand, news outlets across the nation have repeatedly referred to him as an overzealous white male neighborhood watch member who was overcome with racial animosity.
This creates a really appealing narrative, in which a white guy shot a black kid because racism. Battle lines can easily be drawn based on such a story: black people get on board with the story that Trayvon was killed by a white oppressor, and white people can comfortably defend Zimmerman’s right to protect himself from a dark-skinned hoodlum.
It’s a hell of a lot simpler to create this clean, uncomplicated tale of racial tension than it is to correctly identify Zimmerman as the product of an interracial marriage between a white father and Peruvian mother. To deal with that complexity, the New York Times and others have adopted the rarely used phrase “white Hispanic” to describe the killer. Since important media types are throwing around this term, I assume it is now the proverbial “new normal,” and I'm going to start using it too, despite it being a totally clumsy way to deal with a difficult issue. If my sexual performance is any indication, I'm very comfortable with "clumsy."
My father is white, and my mother is black, so I suppose I’m now “white African,” but isn’t a white African a South African of Dutch descent? OK, what if I called myself “white black”? Is that accurate, or does that sound too much like a really bad punk band’s name? Did I mention I’m Jewish? How do I work that in? My grandfather on my mom’s side was part Native American, so I guess I need to add that to the mix. Next time I have to fill out a United States Census form, I’m going to list myself as “white Jewish black Native American,” or “Confused” for short.
I’m probably missing something in my heritage, but I bet we’re missing a few pieces of the puzzle for George Zimmerman too. I guess the next time a guy who looks white shoots a person who looks black, we should do thorough genealogical examinations of their backgrounds to be sure we’re exploiting them appropriately.
Oh, and congratulations to Barack Obama for being America’s first “white Kenyan African Hawaiian ex-smoker with a mole and huge ears” president. That’s quite an accomplishment! RACIST
Photo by Flickr User GageSkidmore
-Disgraced ex-prom queen and noted converter of oxygen into carbon dioxide Ann Coulter receives this week’s Ann Coulter Award for Excellence in Racism for contradicting herself completely in her latest column. First, let me give Ann credit for her frustration at the media’s labeling of George Zimmerman as white. She’s helping expose a real troubling aspect of the way the United States covers the news. After briefly touching on that subject, she takes a sharp left-turn into Crazy Town — which happens to be my favorite late 90s rap-rock band:
“There were at least eight burglaries in the 14 months before Zimmerman's encounter with Martin. Numerous media accounts admit that 'most' of these were committed by black males. I'm waiting to hear about a single crime at Twin Lakes that was not committed by a black male.”
This is her rationale for racial profiling and vigilante violence—it's OK to stalk people and then shoot them as long as they're the same race as someone who has recently committed a crime. I’m not saying her stats are wrong, but I am saying that no number allows you to demonize an entire section of the population. As a person of color, like Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, I don’t want to walk down a suburban street and feel like there’s a target on my back because someone who looks vaguely like me enjoys stealing flat screen TVs.
In the United States, the answer is always to shoot the problem away, be it at home or abroad. According to Ann Coulter's brain, extreme poverty, decaying educational institutions, de facto segregation, and systemic nihilism aren't problems that need to be tackled, we just need to stop "criminals." And one legitimate way to stop criminals, apparently, is to take the law into your own hands and walk around with a gun.
Excuse me while I go start a petition to get Ann Coulter to watch The Wire. RACIST
@YesYoureRacist’s Ten Most Racist Retweets of the Week [all grammar sic'd]:
10. @alexxzzhang: "I'm no racist but the three black men sitting in lawn chairs on corner of Tyron street are making it hard."
9. @kiedoherty: "Not racist but why do black girls feel the need to shout when there next to each other"
8. @416_ms24: "I'm not racist... But all I'm saying is, if a man of a certain race is looking suspicious, I'm locking my doors"
7. @justbeingpiechy: "Im not racist but that ni**a cut me off!!!!"
6. @roadmiles58: "If the blacks riot on travon case blame the ni**er holder and Obama they bused over liberals to fuel this incident"
5. @mohamadmirza95: "I'm not racist but sometimes my mind is racist"
4. @itshaipha: "I am really sorry and not a racist but how do asians wear contact lenses"
3. @devinmmmm: "I'm not racist but I can't stand Indian people..."
2. @shutupced: "happy 4th of July to all u Obama lovers have fun having a Ni**er in charge of ur country(:::"
Last Week in Racism: Johnny Depp Plays Native American in Movie, World Shrugs