7.31.13 38

The Tragedy of Trayvon

(alternately titled: Why Race IS Still A Big Issue, Whether Smug Caucasians Will Own It Or Not)

I’m about to let the legal cat out of the bag: not guilty is not synonymous with innocent.

Everyone say that again.  Not guilty is not the same thing as innocent.

That’s how you have Casey Anthonys and OJ Simpsons.  I don’t think anyone would argue that either of them were completely innocent of the crimes with with they were charged, but they still went free.  Why?  Because we have an amazing legal system in this country that says you are innocent until you are proven guilty.  Not just proven a little bit.  Proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

That was the problem with Zimmerman and Casey Anthony and OJ.  While they appeared to be guilty as sin, the state couldn’t meet their burden.  They simply could not prove beyond a shadow of a doubt to twelve (or six) jurors that the person sitting at the table across the room was guilty of each and every element of their crime.

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather live in a country that allows a few guilty folks to go free than one that allows one innocent person to be incarcerated.  That is a chance I’m willing to take, and to be honest, it’s one that everyone should be willing to take.  I’d much rather err on the side of innocence.

Aristotle (and Elle Woods, if memory serves) once said that the law is reason, free from passion.  Therein lies the problem of the modern legal system.  Not that seemingly guilty defendants go free, but that the media arbitrarily sensationalizes certain cases that they deem worthy of the ratings.  The media plays a large part in the formation of armchair lawyers- those that feel they know everything about the law from watching a few minutes of Jane Velez-Mitchell.

(one.  armchair lawyers make me stabby.  two.  Jane Velez-Mitchell makes me stabby.  in a very Nancy Grace sort of way)

As a whole, we are very, very bad about leaving emotion out of the courtroom.  It’s human nature to internalize the things we see, and the media plays on that.  They play us for their gain.  It’s something to keep in mind the next go-around (and you know there will be a next time): that our feelings toward a particular outcome don’t amount to a hill of beans unless we’re one of the twelve people sitting in the courtroom.  The media will spin you in a fury of emotions, but your emotions shouldn’t play into the facts.

All that should matter are facts.

And now the mighty elephant in the George Zimmerman room: race.

I saw a meme on Facebook yesterday that made my face flush.  It was a picture of OJ Simpson, and the meme read Remember how white people rioted at OJ’s acquittal?  ME NEITHER.

There are very few things in this big wide world that will make me angrier than a white dude who complains about the woes and backlash of discrimination based on the color of skin.  To me, it’s analogous to a man who proclaims he’s pro-life.  Of course he is.  He has the luxury of never having to be pro-choice.  It’s easy to cling to one camp when you’ll never be forced to need the other.  For me, anyway, it’s forehead-thumping stupid that white folks will say that racism is now favoring anyone but the white folks.

I mean … really.

Am I being punked?

 

Are you kidding me.

 

ARE YOU FRIGGIN’ KIDDING ME, AMERICA?

 

 

There are so many things wrong with this that I almost can’t bear to dive into it.

 

Except to say that I hate people like this.  The ones who contemptuously proclaim, There’s Miss Black America, but if we had Miss White America, people would go insane.

 

 
(and that’s when my brain explodes a little from having this conversation so many times)

How about this, white folks?  Be happy we don’t have a Miss White America.  Black pride has never sprung from a need to celebrate being black, but merely from wanting to co-exist with everyone without fear of small-minded persecution based on the color of their skin.  Instead of asking idiotic, smirk-filled rhetorical questions and making a caucasian victim where, quite honestly, there are none, perhaps we should be thankful that we don’t have the need for a White Pride movement.
 

Tell me, since the Crusades, when was the last time we had a systematic persecution of the white Christian male?  Try never.  We just feel the need to play the victim to cover our own insecurities about the bigotry of our souls.  If we get to be the victim, the hatred in our hearts is somehow justified.

 

And that is bullshit.

 

And as an aside, I’m pretty sure we tried that whole White Pride movement once.  It was called the KKK.  A great deal of our history can be classified as a White Pride movement.  It erupted from white people thinking they were better than the minorities.  You know, the same thing that Hitler thought.  I think we handled that swimmingly, don’t you?

 
Summing up:
 

1) Zimmerman was guilty as hell, but we just couldn’t prove it.  I wholeheartedly believe he murdered that boy because he was black, but he walked out of the courtroom.  I’m fine with that, because, as a lawyer, I have to have some sort of faith in the legal system we’ve set up.  Now, had the elements of the crime been proven and he went free, I’d have a different opinion on it all together, but that’s a moot point.

 

2) White people are idiots if they think racism is over, or that it’s merely perpetuated by minorities.

 

3) White people are also idiots if they think they are somehow on the shit-end of the racism stick now.  If the white folks are losing everything, who’s winning??

 
#rambleblog
 

 

Leave a Comment

38 Comments

  1. BOOM.

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  2. Love this! I as a white mother of a mixed race child living in the South know racism is not over yet and I dread the day my beautiful baby girl comes home crying because some disgusting white person calls her the N word or worse.

    My mother always taught me it's not about the color of someone's skin but what's inside the skin that counts. I am hopeful that we as Americans can someday embrace each other despite the different colors of our skin.

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  3. Kadie wrote:

    This was brilliant. I've been editing a post on this since the last day of the trial and I've been struggling to find the words to express what you did so eloquently.

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  4. im just going to second BoldButter "BOOM."

    thank you by the way.

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  5. Melissa wrote:

    Took the thoughts right out of my head! I would have said "words out of my mouth" but I couldn't have stated what you did so well!

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  6. Jackie wrote:

    This is amazing. You put into words, very eloquently might I add, what should have been the response afterwards.

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  7. Jordan wrote:

    I completely agree with this, but I just want to say one thing: if we eliminated the races of both the victim and the defendant, it's still just as bad of a crime. Person A followed and then killed Person B. Period. I don't give a shit who was white, black, green, or purple – the crime in itself was enough for me to believe he was guilty. Of course, the race issue is present, but I just feel that the race card needs to go away. I suppose this makes me naive, but is this really where we are in 2013? He was guilty of murder whether it was fueled by racism or not.

    I'm not a lawyer so I have no say so in this, I just wanted to vent because I'm sick of seeing that stupid shit on my Facebook feed. 🙂

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  8. Kelly B. wrote:

    not 100% what I expected (thought you'd touch more on the FL stand your ground law and why the elements didn't line up to the crimes he was accused of and thus- why he went free).. but I friggin' love this. It's just SO HARD to be a white male in America, guys.. you don't even know. O_O. people give me such eye rolls.

    All those comparable "black on white" crimes that were posted on FB and had tags like "why wasn't this a hate crime" just made me stabby.

    Also, death to Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell, and death to everybody who read 5 CNN articles and think they have any concept of how the legal system works or that they know all the evidence in the case.

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  9. Amen. I think the laws in Fl are totally crazy, but I think the jury/legal system did the right thing under the law. As far as morality is concerned, most people obviously disagree. And yes 1000% to your views on racism. Even if you are not racist in the slightest, there are pieces of systematic proof that you have benefited from being a white person in America, thus the system is just geared in our favor(sadly) whether you are part of the klan or Eminem. Economically speaking though, the most outwardly racist people seem to be the ones most closely aligned with the demographic struggles – lack of education/poverty/etc. Totally fighting the wrong battle, these people… The world makes me sad and angry. sorry this was a novel, lol!

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  10. Tiffany wrote:

    I can't tell you how strongly I am with you about how "not guilty" does not mean "innocent." I preach and preach that and if I'm being honest, when there are trials that are so covered by the media that everyone gets all up in arms, I find it to be a bit of a silver lining when the person is acquitted, just because we know that the legal process was not tainted by public outcry. It terrifies me that people can get caught up in the system and in a case where there is a lot of passion and end up convicted of something they did not do. So do some people walk free even though they did terrible things, yes. But some innocent people are also acquitted, and I think on balance we have to prefer that being the case.

    ~Tiffany

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  11. I did not follow this case very closely because I cannot handle how the media. But I agree, it is important to remember that innocent is not the same as not guilty. I also think that it is a beautiful thing that in our country you are innocent until proven guilty. I think it prevents a lot of innocent people from being locked up.

    The race issue is also very interesting. In college, I took a class on race and media. One of the common discussion points that came up was reverse racism and if it existed. And every time, the discussion looked at who was in power which was the whites. And that because they were the ones in power, there was no need for them to set up their own racial groups because most groups (even those without a technical racial affiliation) were white. I am not sure I did the best explaining this, but I tried.

    Anyways, thank you for this post. I am glad that somebody was able to look at the legality of it all and make a well-educated commentary!

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  12. KatyK wrote:

    There are not enough words for me to properly say how much I agree with and love this post. I can't tell you how many times I have had to WALK AWAY from someone trying to explain reverse racism to me. I just can't even talk to someone once they go there. Or when my white friends say things to me like 'Whitney I don't even see you as a black person.' Really? Then what the hell do you see me as? Or am I in some special category of blackness because I'm your friend. I told one of my girl friends that I'm so glad I have a daughter and not a son. How awful for me, as a black woman, to be glad I don't have a son. Race is still an issue in this country no matter how far we'd like to think we have come. I wonder why the media doesn't camp on white on white crime. (Since black on black violence came up SO MUCH during the media coverage of this.) Last I checked every racial group kills each other. Thank you for addressing the uncomfortable elephant in the room. You've once more reinforced my love for that brain of yours.

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  13. Christa wrote:

    I am from Brunswick GA. I still live here now. Yes, there was outrage here when that baby was shot. But honestly…and this may make me a terrible person…I am glad this case is not getting sensationalized the way the Trayvon case or the Casey Anthony case did. The last thing this town needs is to have those jackelopes from FOX, NBC, CNN, and every other "reputable news source" descending on our community and stirring the pot. It's Southern Georgia, people…we have a hard enough time sorting out so called race relations on our own. We dont need the help of the mainstream media. I am sorry for the family of Trayvon and the baby that was killed here, but the justice system is in place for a reason. You have to let it take it's course and work itself out. Lizzie Borden was acquited of her parents murder 100 years ago and no one had much to say about that. That's the detrimental part that 24 hour "news" stations have played in our country. They convict or acquit someone before they have even seen the inside of a courtroom. It doesnt matter that that baby was white…it matters that the children who shot him were not sufficiently taught right from wrong; they were most likely brought up in homes where they were not given enough love or support. Obviously, since they were not in school when this happened, there is some responsibility to be placed on their parents in whatever capacity. I'm done rambling, but I dont have a blog of my own where I can do so, so when I saw that you had made a reference to my town and the tragedy that happened here, I had to stop and comment. The issue is not that a WHITE child was murdered senselessly…it is that a CHILD of any color is now deprived of living his life.

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  14. Chessa wrote:

    Well said! I couldn't agree more! I see so many similar posts in Facebook about reverse racism I begin to wonder if people truly know the definition of racism. That's scary, because if people can't even define it, then how are they supposed to understand to not do it or be it… That made more sense in my head. Anyway, thanks for the post. You had the guts to post something a lot of people wouldn't have.

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  15. Chels wrote:

    Girl, you are awesome! Very well said! You are going to be an AWESOME lawyer.

    Chels @ Red Velvet Rooster

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  16. Kimberly H wrote:

    As an almost lawyer (and an intern at a DA's office this summer), but also as a HUMAN BEING…I LOVE this post with all of my heart. Everything about it.

    After the Zimmerman verdict, I saw a talking head (possibly Casey Anthony's former attorney…but I can't quite remember) who said something along the lines of – there was a REASON this wasn't charged in the first place, the EVIDENCE just wasn't there. The State buckled under media pressure and charged a crime it couldn't prove. Plain and simple.

    Was Zimmerman not guilty? Yes. Was he innocent? I don't think so. But like you, I appreciate the legal system and ALWAYS want it to err on the side of innocence.

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  17. shannon wrote:

    you're the most well-spoken and articulate person i have never met.

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  18. Melanie wrote:

    While I don't agree with everything you posted, I see where you are coming from. My issue is that I don't think people should have preferential treatment based on race. I don't necessarily think it's racist, but I still don't agree with it.

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  19. Ashlee wrote:

    Though I don't agree with every little aspect of this post, it has been one of the best responses I've read recently regarding the trial/situation at hand. I completely agree that 'not guilty' is not synonymous with 'innocent.' I also agree that the media does overly sensationalize crimes like these.

    Also, props for the Elle Woods reference!

    Thank you for keeping it real and expressing your thoughts in such a mindful way.

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  20. Thank you for such an intelligent post about this. It was quite refreshing to read, for sure!

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  21. Steph G wrote:

    I have been waiting for your response to this and you did not disappoint. Thank you for being able to say the things that I can't find the right words for.

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  22. Angie Bean wrote:

    Preach! I love this!

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  23. Kaitlin wrote:

    *claps*
    Way to put it all in perspective, beautifully and eloquently as always. I agree wholeheartedly with all of this…but one thing. I'm a legal journalist, so technically part of "the media," and I just want to say that – *some of us are really trying!!* It really sucks that cable news and certain other media outlets do spin things, it really, really does. It's arbitrary like you said, and harmful to the process, and it's the reason so many Facebookers get all hot and bothered about things they don't understand. But it makes *my* face flush when people blame "the media" as a whole, because I promise there are some good ones! Me included – I hope! Part of the problem is that there aren't a lot of journalists with a good understanding of the law, and the folks at FOX and CNN can easily get swayed when a lawyer for one side comes to them with a story. I think more reporters should be trained on how to report on the law, just like they are trained on how to report on city council meetings or Congressional hearings. Anyhoo those are just my thoughts – thank you for this post!

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  24. Misty wrote:

    Every time I read your posts like this, gay marriage or anything political, I just want to say one word.

    DITTO.

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  25. and THIS is exactly why I love you with all my heart. PREACH!

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  26. thank you for always articulating what I'm feeling when it comes to politics.

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  27. This is absolutely wonderful. I feel nearly the exact same way. Although, now that the bar is behind me, I'd be interested in spending some time to research Florida's manslaughter statute and what instructions the jury was given… Good post. And can I just say that I am THRILLED that the comments to this seem to be positive! I am sooo happy to know that there are a group of white people that can understand that racism is not dead… (Neither is sexism, but that's a different post huh?)

    -Kate
    theflorkens.com
    Launching 8.1.13

    Published 7.31.13
    Reply
  28. Wow, I really appreciate you opening up and putting your thoughts out there — especially as a white woman. (I'm black.) And especially in the blogosphere, too. I had my own debate about whether or not to say something about this recently on my blog… but ultimately, I felt like I needed to say something.

    I find that… the privilege of race sometimes is that you don't have to acknowledge it if you're not a minority. And so with this whole Trayvon-Zimmerman thing, I've seen a whole lot of people go silent and just wish that this whole thing would be over. Like it's bothering them to bring it up, even though they are seeing it through the diluted, indirect form of being on a television show while there are millions of people living with this as their reality.

    I really love the points you brought up. I don't quite believe that law lives up to the ideal of reason free from passion, but I do think that's what strived for. I think the difficulty, though, is that even if we have a system that says it's for "guilty until proven innocent," we also have institutional practices that give only some people the benefit of the doubt and not others. And because we're all human, emotion and biases are going to play a role in decision-making. That said, I think the prosecution failed at presenting a case or an argument that helped to prove the point they needed to prove. It's not just about facts but how people SEE the facts. At the end of the day, a lot of the law system (in my eyes) comes down to who argues better (at least in ambiguous situations such as this one…). We know the facts: that Trayvon was murdered. Now I think what's happening is the bigger issue of Florida and other states having laws that reinforce and support this type of behavior, which make it hard to convict someone who is blatantly guilty (to the point that we all know that he murdered him). It seems weird that there isn't any sort of punishment, even if it was an accident or self-defense.

    I could go on and on, but I just wanted to say I majorly respect you speaking up when you didn't have to…

    –Erika
    http://www.chimerikal.com

    Published 8.1.13
    Reply
  29. *correction: innocent until proven guilty! HAHA!

    Published 8.1.13
    Reply
  30. just everything this.

    i wrote a lengthy post on my thoughts on the trayvon case on july 16 (i remember bc it was my bday!) and ive talked about this stuff before – ESPECIALLY when people post those pictures on FB about "how we'll NEVER hear about this case bc the person who killed me was black" i can't even start with those people.

    & to the people who question why we have black history month or miss black america or black entertainment television i just tell them it's because EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR is white history month.

    so yah, you could say i get a little worked up/ passionate about it!

    Published 8.1.13
    Reply
  31. Jessica wrote:

    Amazing!! Thank you for writing this- it sums up everything I believe as well. I took a Racism and Oppression course and it completely opened my eyes more to systemic racism and how so many people in this country don't even see it and declare "racism is dead" because we have a black president and Beyonce is queen of America (basically). Love, love this post!

    Published 8.1.13
    Reply
  32. ABSOFREAKINLUTELY.

    Published 8.1.13
    Reply
  33. Jessa wrote:

    I'll be totally honest, there is about 1% of this that I don't agree with, but completely respect your opinion on.

    The other 99%, I love.

    Either way, I applaud you for being honest and firm in your beliefs, knowledge, and feelings. And also for being brave enough to touch on this subject.

    There are so many things I'd like to speak about that are touchy topics, but I wont, because I know that a lot of people out in our little blog land don't make the effort to respect other peoples thoughts and feelings on these types of topics. They usually jump to conclusions and feel as though, if you don't agree with them, then you're wrong.

    Published 8.1.13
    Reply
  34. Lisa wrote:

    WOW…..Great post!!! <3

    Published 8.1.13
    Reply
  35. Tyly wrote:

    And this is exactly why I couldn't wait for you to post about this!

    Published 8.7.13
    Reply
  36. breedwoman wrote:

    Just a thought… if White pride is linked to the KKK and Hitler then what is black pride linked to now? Up until the 60s-70s i would agree with you about the need for the black population to need outlets to stand together and develop pride and hope. But now? Now it just seems to segregate us more and again. Why is there a need for a Miss Black… or a Black TV etc. Why can't it all be equal. Why can't people get admitted into school based on qualification and not on racial statistics?

    Published 8.14.13
    Reply
  37. I have so many conflicting emotions on all of this. I do agree with you on a lot of things thing. Besides, you're a lawyer, why would I dare argue with you? 😉 We have a Somalian family that lives across the alley from us and they have 6 kids. My son told me that another (white) kid was making racist remarks to them, which infuriates me. One of the boys, who is my son's age, told my son that he wishes he was white. That makes me sad on so many levels that he would want to be different because of rude and racist people. That is not something I like to hear from children. I wish racism was over, but I fear it will never be. 🙁

    Published 8.16.13
    Reply