AFRICANGLOBE – A trial should be a crucible for the truth. While the legal outcome remains much in doubt, George Zimmerman’s murder trial is a reminder of the semi-permanence of race and the reality of the color line in post civil rights America.
The Zimmerman trial has revealed several truths so far. Young, dark-skinned, black women testifying in court about life and death matters–and who happen to be “working class” or “poor”–are to be savaged and mocked. The myth of the welfare queen lives on; Black, female, and “poor” is to be less than a human being. She is most certainly not due the most basic amount of human respect or dignity.
White America is fascinated by Black vernacular speech and how people of color talk in private spaces and among ourselves, as opposed to in public spaces or other interactions where we are subjected to the White Gaze.
The comments on Twitter, other social media, and the Internet at large, have revealed how one’s relationship to the truth is also very much a function of racial attitudes and political orientation.
Zimmerman’s supporters believe that he is a “victim” and Black folks are existentially obligated to submit to White people (and those who identity with White Authority) at all times and in every situation. Most of Zimmerman’s supporters do not know about America’s long history of slave passes, White slave patrollers, or Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney’s infamous ruling in the Dred Scott case that Black people have no rights that Whites are obligated to respect. Yet, they echo such sentiments across time and space with ease.
Trayvon Martin’s advocates see in his killing one more example (among many thousands) where in the United States, Black life is deemed to be cheap and expendable; African-Americans are presumed guilty until proven innocent—even while walking down the street and minding their own business.
While ostensibly a means of getting at the truth of what happened that rainy and dark evening, Zimmerman’s trial has also been a spectacle and a carnival sideshow in America’s centuries-long racial theater.
While talking on the phone to his friend Rachel Jaentel, Trayvon Martin apparently called George Zimmerman, the man who followed him in a vehicle, exited it with a gun, and pursued him against police instructions, a “creepy a*s cracker.” In a twist of thinking, and an inversion of what studied, learned, and reasonable people understand about the realities of race and power in America, for colorblind conservative racists, George Zimmerman has been magically transformed into a victim of “reverse racism.”
Such a troubled relationship to the truth would be the stuff of a great comedy sketch if these serious matters did not involve a young person shot dead by a wannabe cop who imagined himself as possessing a license to kill.
The truth can also be inconvenient: by virtue of his actions and character, George Zimmerman is in fact a “creepy cr*cker.”
The origins of the word cracker are uncertain. What we do know is that Trayvon’s use of “cracker” drew on a long history of mass racial violence by Whites against African-Americans that began with the transatlantic slave trade and the plantation system in the “New World.”
“Cr*cker” is evocative of the sound of the whip, wielded by a White overseer or slave owner, as it lashes and tears Black flesh. Cr*cker is a word that embodies White on black racial violence and tyranny.
Cr*cker is in no way equivalent to the word n*gger.
Were millions of white people killed and enslaved by Blacks holding the lash and calling them “cr*ckers?” Were there signs that segregated Whites from Blacks that read “no cr*ckers need apply” or “cr*ckers sit in the back of the bus”? Were White people burned alive, their bodies defiled, postcards taken of their corpses, and public gatherings where Blacks killed “cr*ckers” by the thousands? Were there racial pogroms where Blacks running amok, pillaging, raping, murdering and destroying property at will, yelled out for the blood of “cr*ckers” in places like Tulsa, East St. Louis, Chicago, and Rosewood? Were there sundown towns that had signs on their outskirts which told “cr*ckers” “not to let the sun set on them here” or they will be killed?
No. To suggest that the words “cr*cker” and “n*gger” are at all similar is an act which is both intellectually dishonest and a lie.
History is rife with cruel coincidences and ironies. For decades, Sanford, Florida was a sundown town. Blacks were not welcome in its city limits. White racism was so potent in Sanford, Florida that Jackie Robinson, the trailblazing hero who broke the color line in baseball, was not allowed to train there.
When Trayvon Martin called George Zimmerman a cr*cker he was channeling a sense of existential dread and fear of White racial violence. Trayon’s worries were prescient. George Zimmerman would later shoot and kill Trayvon after racially profiling him.
George Zimmerman is also a creep.
George Zimmerman stalked and followed an innocent person on a rainy night. Strangers with loaded guns following innocent people around in the dark are almost by definition “creepy.” George Zimmerman has been accused of sexually molesting a relative. He has been visited with a restraining order for domestic battery. Zimmerman has also been in a fight with the police. On the evening he shot and killed Trayon Martin, he was taking a medication which can cause anxiety, violent impulses, aggression, and hallucinations.