Race Reversal: A Hypothetical Scenario Of What Would Happen If Trayvon Martin Were White And George Zimmerman Were Black, And Why Race Has Everything To Do With The Case
If you don’t understand how deeply and viciously racist has been the official and right-wing reaction to the murder of Trayvon Martin, all you have to do is consider what would have been the official and right-wing reaction had the races of Martin and his killer been reversed.
Imagine a lanky white teenager was walking in a strange neighborhood at night. He’s a good kid—according to one of his teachers “an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness"—although he’s not above making the foolish teenaged mistake of getting caught with an empty baggie with marijuana residue inside it. But he has no criminal record. The worst anyone can say about him is that he smokes some pot, which puts him in the company of nearly half of all American high school students, something more than half of all American adults would legalize. But he’s a good student and has no criminal record. In other words, he’s a pretty typical teenager. A good kid.
Then one night this typical teenager is walking alone in a strange neighborhood, munching on some junk food and talking on his cell phone. And remember that we’re reversing the races here, so now he’s a white kid walking alone in a strange neighborhood, and it’s a black man who steps out of an SUV and starts following him. A black man who outweighs the teen by nearly a hundred pounds. A black man who steps out of an SUV, pulls up a hoodie, and starts following the teen. The kid tells his friend on the cell phone that someone is following him. He tells her because he doesn’t understand why someone is following him. He’s nervous. He’s just walking along, munching on junk food, and someone has started following him.
Finally, he decides to confront the guy. Even though he is nervous, he probably can’t imagine that simply walking in a strange neighborhood would lead to someone shooting him dead. He’s standing up for himself, but the thought of violence, the thought of gunfire, doesn’t even enter his head. But when he confronts the big guy who had been following him, and asks why he has been following him, the big guy pulls a gun. It happens so suddenly, the teen probably barely has time to realize that something serious is now happening. This was just an innocent evening stroll, a big guy had started following him for no reason, and now his life is being threatened. This was just an innocent evening stroll, and now he’s looking at a gun. Pointed at him. By a big guy who had been following him for no reason. A big guy who now shoots him dead.
Three witnesses later report having heard the boy’s desperate cry for help. The police report (pdf) says he was found face down, with his hands under him. He was carrying no weapon. He was carrying no drugs. He was carrying the type of junk food typical teenagers carry. In our reversal of races scenario, the story then is that a lanky white teen was walking in a strange neighborhood, snacking on junk food, talking to a friend on his cell phone, when a large black man stepped out of an SUV, started following him, frightened him, and shot him dead. Imagine the reaction.
Now suppose we find out that the teen’s killer had a history of race-based paranoia. Suppose we find out that the teen’s killer’s neighbors had complained of his aggressive behavior. Suppose we find out that the teen’s killer had once been arrested for “resisting arrest with violence and battery on an officer.” Suppose we find out that the teen’s killer that night had ignored a police dispatcher who had told him to stop following the teen. And suppose that after all that, the much larger black man who had stepped out of an SUV, pulled up a hoodie, and started following the white teen had ended up shooting the white teen dead. What would have been the official response? What would have been the right-wing reaction?
Would a police officer have tried to coach a witness to change her story? Would the local state attorney and police chief have overruled even the lead homicide investigator, who recommended that the killer be charged with manslaughter? Would the police have neglected even to give the killer a routine drug and alcohol test? Would the police have neglected to contact whomever the kid was talking to on the phone just moments before he was shot, ignored the witnesses who contradicted the killer’s story, and later reported that the killer had been bloodied in a confrontation with the dead teen, even though the real time reports suggested no such thing, and even though the police surveillance video shows the killer had no discernible wounds or discomfort, and even though the funeral director who prepared the dead teen’s body for burial says there was no evidence he had been in a fight?
If Trayvon Martin had been white and George Zimmerman black, this would not have become a national story. If they had reported it at all, the right-wing media would have praised Martin for trying to stand his ground before a dangerous violent thug. It defies credulity to think they would be dismissing the killer’s behavior, making despicable excuses such as blaming the kid’s clothing, or if— unthinkable in this reversing-the-races scenario—there had been no criminal charges filed against the killer, dismissing the story altogether. The questions here don’t even need answers. The questions answer themselves.
Had Trayvon Martin been white and George Zimmerman black, Zimmerman would be headed for death row. Right-wing media would be hailing Martin as a hero. A martyr who had stood his ground against a dangerous predator. They would be saying that it’s too bad Martin hadn’t somehow fought back against Zimmerman, and that if he had somehow succeeded in fighting a man so much larger than him, it would have been justifiable if he had left Zimmerman dead.
There is no polite way to explain what has happened. There is no polite way to explain the reflexive defensive rationalizations by the right-wing media and their right-wing fans. This was a racist killing with a racist cover-up and the right wing’s reaction has been virulently and viciously racist. To understand the depth of the right wing’s racist depravity, all it takes is to consider the very different reaction to this horror had the races of the victim and his killer been reversed.
Welcome to post-racial America.
“I think it’s great for two people to be together. That is a good number. I think, that to keep it alive though, you can’t spend every day together. It wears out the magic. Love means nothing to me if it’s not fortified with fierce, painful longing, brief explosive instances of furious passion…
I am seriously outraged right now. I went into school today and was sent to the principal’s office not even 5 minutes inside the building. I was asked if I had any other clothes with me to which I responded I did not and was told I would NOT be sent to my classes if I didn’t call someone to come bring me clothes.
I told her that my mother is the only one who lives with me and that she was at work and could not come bring me clothes.
To which she responded
“Well I’m not sending you to your classes like that, you can come into my office and do some work but unless we get a parental figure to come bring you clothes you will not be going to class, it’s too much of a distraction and offensive to your fellow students.”
excuse me but what is so offensive about my shorts. I have worn this outfit numerous times during the school year, and only now that it has started to get nice outside have they been stricter on what the girls in this high school wear.
DO YOU KNOW HOW HOT IT FUCKING IS OUTSIDE.
The office called my mom and told her that “my way of dressing could be offensive or distracting to the students and most importantly, the teachers.”
I’m a junior in high school, but just because i’m a junior does NOT MEAN I WILL STAND FOR YOUR BULLSHIT SLUT-SHAMING AND SEXIST DRESS CODE.
Instead of telling the girls to feel victimized and shamed for what they wear, like tell your shitty staff to stop being such perverts and to look away and seriously, if they have such issues with my clothing that they can’t help themselves then why are you allowed to be a teacher in the first place.
My body is not something to be ashamed of, and I will not “change” to fit into your shit society of misogynistic ideals.
I will. wear. what. I choose.
here’s what I think about your shit dress code:
I also read Weetzie Bat at a formative age and blame it for making me weird about relationships :D I was just so traumatized when MSALM walked out, so cold.
When I was a kid, I read Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block; this was my first introduction to relationship anarchy. I felt completely drawn to the protagonist, Weetzie Bat, and the fact that she loves her two friends (who are in a gay relationship) Dirk and Duck. Weetzie Bat, Dirk, and Duck end up having a kid together — yes, they all have a threesome. Then, when Weetzie Bat finds her Secret Agent Lover Man, they all four raise the baby together.
Maybe I forgot the order. But the one thing that always stuck out in my mind was the fact that all four of them lived in a house happily-ever-after together.
Later, when I was in high school, I confessed to my then boyfriend that I wanted to have a polyamorous relationship. He dumped me immediately on the grounds that “you must think I am not enough.” I would be lying if I said I still didn’t feel a little shame from that instance.
Most of it hasn’t changed, of course:
- I still have no interest in telling my partners who to sleep with—or who not to. Even in a D/s relationship I don’t want veto power. That might make me odd, but it’s something that is very central to my personality (and it ties into consent).
- I still like to allow relationships to develop naturally and organically.
- I still value constant communication over rules—and safety over that.
Another subject of interest for me lately, poorly represented on the web by a translated Swedish manifesto.
I love the idea though- relationships not by force or coercion, ultimatums or fear- just loving people with no expectations. No rejections, no monogamy, no anything but a partner treated not as a commodity on lockdown, but a person you love and trust.
It’s beautiful. It seems *intuitive*. But no one ever talks about it. Anyway, let’s start doing that. Relationship Anarchy, WOO!
I just learned the word “Demisexual” recently, and when I look for it, it’s mainly rants about how people seek out labels to be different, a sentiment 16-year-old smartlypretty can relate to well.
It seems it’s used by a lot of teenagers and virgins and stuff, and I totally see how it looks “attention seeking.”
I am 34, and when I learned this word, it was very helpful to me, and I thought as a mid-thirties, non-virgin, very sexual person I could throw into the ring what the benefit of experience has done to make me personally find the word demisexual relevant, useful and insightful.
For us experienced olds, “demisexual” contextualizes a lot of our relationship and sexual history.
I am personally in actuality a very sexual person. Insatiable, in fact. I’ve loved few men and sexually connected with fewer.
Which is not to say I have not had casual sex, I have, and I didn’t much feel anything about it either way. I felt no guilt, shame or disgust, but neither did I enjoy it or wish to experience it again.
For people like me, dating is a totally alien and weird concept, because the idea you will form a bond sufficient to precipitate sexual desire sounds outlandish.
Your friends will not believe you, they will tell you you are hung up, closed off, prudish or what have you. (BDSM is a good counter for this.)
It is incredibly difficult to go through life as a person who does not experience primary attraction — I didn’t even know that was a thing until I learned about #demisexuality. To me, I can be intensely sexual and very kinky, but only in the context of an emotional or intellectual connection.
As you go through the stages of partnering up, this is a challenge. Demisexuals will find their partners organically- through online communities and other places where a relationship can form without expectation and be converted to romantic or sexual when both parties are there.
So I get why terms like demisexuality annoy people, but please know they do a lot to help people who are stuck not understanding their lack of attraction alongside a perfectly healthy sex drive. It is A Thing, and if it bothers you, ignore it. FFS.