I was downtown over the weekend, and felt my heart sink as I drove past City Hall. I could read the writing on the giant poster-boards from a block a way. “Justice for Trayvon” was the gist of them all. As we pulled up to the stoplight, I could feel the hurt, sadness, anger, and tension that I usually only see being reported on the news – right in front of me.
I hesitate to even write about the explosion of coverage and opinion-slinging on the Zimmerman verdict because I think the social outrage we’re seeing is BECAUSE of this constant coverage. But, I had to say something. And that something is that we need to stop talking about it. Like, right now.
Murders happen every day. This case had nothing to do with racism until the media made it about racism. Zimmerman may have been a raging racist. He may not have been. We just don’t know.
From what I see and feel in my own life and community, racism is dying off with our grandparents’ generation. But, media vomit, like what we’ve seen lately, is causing Americans to feel that there is this thick racism permeating our culture, when in reality – its just not there.
I’m in my 20s, and almost everyone that I know of who is my age, is above racism. I have five girlfriends who adopted black babies and the color of their children’s skin is never a thought in my mind. In fact, I upped that number from two to five as I wrote this, because I never think of my friends in skin-color categories. One of my closest and favorite friends is black and there’s never been any weirdness between us. I call her my co-person (an homage to Anchorman) and she makes me laugh more than anyone I know.
Now, when I’m around people from my grandparents’ generation, its a whole different ball game. I was at a family reunion last week, and my sister and I kept a tally and cringed at all the grossly racist statements made by those in our family over the age of 80 – not white toward black, but…every race. The people that we dub as “racists” tend to have it out for all racial groups…all age groups…all groups period.
All this to say, I think that people in my generation are pretty colorblind, for the most part.
I’ve got Jewish blood. I know that had I been born a few generations ago and lived in a different country, me and my people would have been the victims of hateful murderous racism led by Hitler and the Nazis…but, I still married a German. I never ever ever think about the fact that my husband could have been a Nazi that threw me into a concentration camp.
When Obama spoke last week, and talked about how Trayvon could have been him 35 years ago, and how every black male knows what its like to be stopped at a shopping center because of what they look like, I felt a lot of sadness and compassion for him and the rest of the black community. I think that Obama was, as he articulated, trying to explain the lens in which the black community views the Zimmerman verdict. But, I think it probably wasn’t what America needed. Obama’s speech gave a nod to the black community that said “You’re right – white people don’t understand you. They don’t know what its like,” – creating the illusion of a racial tension that isn’t really there anymore.
I think that our response to this should be…no response. I know that I’m not racist, and I know that the people I do life with aren’t either. We need to stop talking about the Zimmerman verdict. It’s done. Maybe its just, maybe it’s not. All we can do now, is move forward and treat each other with kindness and respect.