It’s been awhile since I’ve provided you access to the inner workings of my mind. You know, there was that semi-retirement. There was this. There was that. This and that are still going on, but, you know, I’ve got me some things I need to say. So, here it goes. A peek inside.
George Zimmerman. Here’s the deal. It’s both a race case and not a race case. I think George Zimmerman was, on one level, doing what he was supposed to do. (For the record, I didn’t realize I was going to write that until the letters formed the words and the sentence.) Yes, he was doing what he was supposed to do. He was hired to provide security for a gated community. Well, guess what, if I’m a security guard and a teenage boy is walking through the neighborhood, he’s what I’m going to watch. It doesn’t matter the race of the boy. I’m watching. There is no way any of us will know what was really in Zimmerman’s head that night, but on some level I do think he was doing his job.
That all said, here’s the other part of this reality. He created the situation in which he shot Trayvon. And, here’s where it becomes a race case. One of the things I’ve never heard is whether Zimmerman was wearing a uniform that identified him as a security guard. (Just google’d the question — there’s at least some suggestion that he wasn’t actually security, but was just a part of neighborhood watch. No idea if that’s true.) Let’s say he was a hired security guard. Did he have a uniform? Was his truck marked to show he was security? Anything like that? At all?
Here’s why I ask the question. A few years ago, as I drove to work one wonderful morning, I was pulled over. By an unmarked car, with a weird blue light on the dash, and an individual who approached my car once I had pulled over. Dressed in a black jacket, black slacks, and nothing to indicate he was an officer of the law. At a time when there were repeated local stories about idiots pulling people over, with fake lights and impersonating law enforcement, and then stealing their cars or, in the case of women, abducting them and raping them.
I’m respectful of law enforcement. They have a tough job and if I’ve done something wrong, I’ll accept the ticket, pay it and move along. That morning, however, I had done nothing wrong. And so, when he pulled me over in his unmarked car and in his clothing that showed no indication of a law enforcement connection, I reacted differently than I might otherwise. I was pissed. As he asked me for my license and registration I asked him who he was. I demanded he show me some evidence that he was actually a cop. That’s when he pulled his jacket down and showed the badge on the shirt he wore underneath. I gave him my license and registration. But I was still pissed. I did the thing you’re never supposed to do. I got out of my car and walked back to his as he did whatever paperwork it was he thought he needed to do.
The end of the story is this. He didn’t give me a ticket. He was having a bad day. (At 7:30 in the morning!) And didn’t like that I looked at him as I passed him before turning right and going along with my commute. Here’s the fascinating thing about my own situation. I’m a white man. The officer was black.
My point. If Zimmerman had nothing on him that demonstrated to Trayvon he was security, I totally get Trayvon’s reaction. Here’s some guy, some stranger, following him when he’s just trying to get home. He doesn’t have any idea why this guy is following him. Trayvon is a teenage boy — maybe this guy is some pervert. Who knows. But I get the reaction.
And, here’s where it becomes a race case. White on black. Okay, fine, Zimmerman isn’t necessarily “white.” But anything on black has a different standard in our judicial system than the other way around. There is absolutely no way any sane individual can deny that in places like Florida the race of the victim and the perpetrator matter. Zimmerman and Trayvon had nothing to do with race until it became entwined with our judicial system.
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There were a number of other things I wanted to write about here, but they pale in comparison to the Zimmeran-Trayvon imbroglio. How can I write about NCAA athletes who don’t recognize the value of a free college education and demand more, while also acknowledging the disgusting sums of money made on the backs of those atheletes? How can I write about the beauty of baseball?
How? When somebody’s child was killed when he never should have been. I hurt so much for Trayvon’s parents. And for the idea that we’ll ever get to the point where race doesn’t matter in this country. It’s a pipe dream. An impossibility.