Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Stench of Racism Fills the Air


Like so many else, I was outraged at the verdict that freed George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin.  Though the verdict itself was a heartbreak for all of us who believed that an innocent, unarmed teenager was gunned down by a racial-profiling vigilante and was not punished, I was not surprised at the outcome given Florida’s gun laws and that a second degree murder or manslaughter case could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. 
I was also not surprised (but angry nonetheless) that the prosecution gave a less than robust performance in an effort to at least send Zimmerman up the river for manslaughter.  They failed to effectively poke holes in Zimmerman’s story that his using a handgun was in self-defense and that his life was truly in danger.  I’ll never believe it.

But what infuriated me most was the reaction to the verdict that brought out racists who hide behind the anonymity of a keyboard to spew their vitriol all over the blogosphere, social media and elsewhere.  You see, Zimmerman was perfectly justified, in their view, not because he “stood his ground” or that his life was somehow in danger at the hands of an unarmed 17 year-old.  They rejoiced at the acquittal because Trayvon deserved it. 
After all, he was a young black male, wearing a hoodie that fateful evening and seemed suspicious.  They say he was a drug addict because he had previously smoked marijuana; that burglar tools were once found on him along with possessing stolen women’s jewelry.  And that he was a thug.

Translation: Trayvon was black so he must have been guilty of something.  Blame the victim; it’s his fault for appearing “suspicious.” Why are the liberals anguishing over this incident when there is so much black-on-black crime, they reason.  It’s pathetic.
The racists also chomped at the bit to vilify their favorite targets:  Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama.  They’re the villains here, not the white-Hispanic George Zimmerman.  

Then there is Trayvon’s phone pal Rachel Jeantel, whom TIME columnist Joe Klein described as one who stoked “every white racist’s fantasy about the limitations of black people.”
Racism has reared its ugly head once again, and it doesn’t look like it’s going away soon while other forms of bigotry have changed course. 

We have witnessed homophobia lessening over time though it is still dangerously out there.  People have gradually evolved towards acceptance of LGBT folks even on same-sex marriage, the ultimate frontier.  
As an increasing number of LGBT people come out, they become the faces of gay rather than some abstract image. More people now than ever before, according to surveys, know at least one LGBT individual personally.  Family members, co-workers, neighbors, friends—all see LGBT folks in a different light and it’s usually positive. 
Racism is another matter.  You can’t come out as “black” to change ingrained perceptions.  

America has a long, sad history of racism.  With the election of our first African-American president, we all were duped into thinking our country had finally moved forward.  Wrong!  Instead, the opposite occurred.  We took a giant leap backward.

During the 2008 campaign we saw these racists climbing out from under their rocks.  It didn’t improve much in 2012.  “Socialist,” they yelled.  “Terrorist.”  They assumed that Mr. Obama would be taking their money and handing it over to black America.  The obdurate opposition to the Affordable Care Act is based on the same misinformation and prejudice-laden rage: white folks will have to cough over more of their hard earned money so that black people can get health care.

The nauseating endless quest to have the president prove he was born in the U.S. is yet another example.  The constant belittling him over everything—refusing to give him his due credit and blaming him for all of the world’s ills—is largely race-based.  The so-called “patriots” who supposedly love our country would rather it fall into an economic abyss than to make compromises as a component of governance. 
In short, the racists strive to defeat the president at every turn no matter the issue.  They want to ensure that the U.S. should never again make the mistake of electing a black president.  Of course, not all of the opponents of the president are racists but all the racists are opponents of the president.

The Supreme Court’s ruling that gutted a key part of the Voting Rights Act is more evidence of racism.  Immediately, several states moved to toughen their voting laws to make sure blacks and other minorities are disenfranchised. The House Republicans’ removal of the Food Stamps program from the Farm Bill is a further example because to them, only blacks receive the aid. 
Then the trial of George Zimmerman reinforced all the racists fears including the liberal media, the bleeding hearts who ignore crimes committed by African-Americans, you name it.  In the age of online anonymity, they surface and freely say what they truly believe.

Folks, we are moving backward, and the stench of racism is suffocating all of us.  Perhaps Washington Post columnist and MSNBC commentator Jonathan Capehart summed it up best in a tweet related to the aftermath of the verdict:  “Reading these letters is like walking through a sewer with no shoes.”
Racism is not going away.  It’s going to take a new generation of color-blind children to grow up and reverse the course.

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