Talk of the news stations last night and all the Sunday morning new shows this morning was unsurprisingly the “Not Guilty” verdict from the Zimmerman trial. Like any trial with this much attention, the final verdict elicits a variety of responses that cover every gamut of the situation – whether legal, social, racial, etc. To be honest, while I believe the situation to be a travesty – when a young life is lost it can’t be anything but that. However, my biggest surprise was that it appeared the jury actually maintained a purely legal perspective and decision, not that Zimmerman was found Not Guilty. Given the law in Florida and the points of consideration that should have been the focus, the outcome was not a surprise. Sorry, the trial and it’s outcome isn’t really about the problem that a black child can’t get a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea without being concerned about being shot – despite the number of predominantly black panelists that made that the point of order this morning. That argument isn’t going to bring anybody in this country closer to being open-minded and accepting. Yes, a travesty and tragedy that speaks volumes of how we treat each other but it will not be fixed in the courtroom other than from a legal perspective.
That being said, there are obviously many more issues and factors in play here. I was astonished with the number of panelists on news shows this morning that raise the specter that racism exists in this country. Really? I didn’t even think that was the elephant in the room. I must have missed the announcement that we as a country have overcome bigotry. I say bigotry because this problem challenging us is bigger than racism as the problem is bigger than the color of one’s skin. In any case I would submit the first step, if we are to make any progress on the issues of how blacks are viewed and treated (a reality), we need to move from one case like this. Turning the results and reactions to a specific trial into the rallying call or headline of actions is a risky and often “one step forward and two steps back” approach. I remind everyone of the OJ Simpson trial and the reactions that followed.
It would seem to me it is more important to look at some of the broader questions and challenges here.
Haven’t heard much about gun control in this case – seems to me to be another poster child for why we shouldn’t just let any one walk around with a firearm. Sure make the case that if Zimmerman hadn’t left his car, Martin would be alive. Imagine if Zimmerman didn’t have a gun – he probably wouldn’t have even been out there on his neighborhood watch as this wasn’t a man who appeared to have a lot of extra testosterone – except when buoyed by a weapon. Sounds familiar to many of our gun loving citizens.
More importantly, I’m going to position a view that will piss off many as it will be received as a statement that somehow attributes responsibility for the death of this young man and the bigotry as a whole back to the black community (or any minority community for that matter) which it does not because my point is really about us as a country and a society and the responsibility we owe to the society we live in. And my position stands for any segment of our population, no matter the minority we speak to. If you as a minority want to be treated differently and not be pre-judged, profiled, whatever, then practice what you preach. Don’t expect that behavior in others if you can’t live it yourself. In this case I will pick on the black community for one particular reason – the view of the majority of blacks towards the LGBT community is one of almost total intolerance. I won’t start throwing the data out there but if we look at gay marriage, equal rights under the law, just a view of gays in general, the black community has a rather dismal history of anything approaching acceptance. On the scale of bigotry, in this area it doesn’t look too good. Yes, I know all about the religious basis of it all and I’m sure you can rationalize a great deal of it but at the end of it all, it is still bullshit. I’m met many a racist who has easily found a rationalization for their view.
But until the minority segments of our society can show equal openness and acceptance to the LGBT community that matches what they want, expect and demand for themselves, my words to you are pretty much get ready for more of the same – it is unfair, it is unacceptable and it is horrific but if you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Ye Reap what Ye Sow. Karma’s a bitch.
Yep, we’ve got quite a journey ahead.