|A profile picture in a hoodie won't change the world but it does let everyone know how I feel and who I represent.|
These two things may seem unrelated: but in a sense, they are. In the case of Rue, a fictional character: multiple posters are suggesting anger and disgust over the fact that the girl is not only black in the movie but quite possibly intended as black by the author, they act as if a trick has been played upon them: one that has caused them to care about a girl whom they would have cared less about, or possibly not about at all if they had known she was black. In the case of Trayvon, a real child who died senselessly, people are busy stating the opposite: that they do care, and that it hurts them imagining something like this happening to their own child.
A friend of mine recently stated that the case of George Zimmerman, who shot Trayvon Martin, should not be tried in the media. However, it is my position that it is the failure of the Sanford, Florida police department to take Mr. Zimmerman into custody and have the matter tried in a court of law that has lead to this situation of trial by social media. The evidence suggesting that Mr. Zimmerman himself may have racially profiled seventeen year old Trayvon Martin, while existent, is not nearly as damning as the myriad examples of handling by the Sanford Police Department that indicated racial bias.
And here is where there is a relationship between the fictional Rue and the handling of the Zimmerman shooting: it is in the politics of perception in racial bias. Just as some bigoted readers cared more about the fate of Rue when they *perceived* her as non-African, the handling of Zimmerman's shooting of Trayvon Martin seems to be tainted by the *perception* of the Sanford Police Department that George Zimmerman was a white man who shot a black youth.
The police report stated that Zimmerman was a white man.
Now, after the fact, Zimmerman's relatives have stated that his mother is Peruvian and that Zimmerman himself is a Latino man. Naturally, they are making these statements to defend Zimmerman himself and allegations that he engaged in racial profiling towards Trayvon Martin, or uttered a racial slur. My personal opinion, which is neither here nor there, is as follows: I believe Zimmerman did engage in racial profiling, I do not believe he uttered a racial slur. It's unclear what he said, but he's a 28 year old man, not an 82 year old man: "coon" is not a modern racial slur, I buy that Zimmerman may have said something else.
On the subject of racial profiling, however: one does not have to be white to racially profile. As a biracial American of African and Russian-Jewish heritage, who is lighter complected than my only sibling, I know and understand very well what it meant when I would go into a store with my darker skinned brother and be followed around by security guards who thought the black teenagers were there to steal from their store. I also noticed that non-white security guards including black ones were more likely to follow me when I was in a store with my brown skinned relatives than when I was walking around with my teenage pink-skinned relatives: and ironically, it was when I was with my cousin who is of Russian-Jewish and Irish heritage, that all of the teenage shoplifting went down. This is the nature of profiling: it's a decision that person who looks like X is up to no good, person who looks like Z looks innocent.
The problem with the "Stand Your Ground" laws is that they put the power to act upon irrational fears and subconscious prejudices in a lethal manner, with a gun. Let me be clear on what I am saying: If Zimmerman was prejudiced, he is not alone. If you think there aren't tons of racists around, go look at some Internet article comments: you will see lots and lots of race hate speech. Human beings have prejudices: we have laws to keep people from running rampant and acting upon these prejudices. Once you put guns into the hands of average Joe, or average George Zimmerman type dudes with wannabe cop fantasies running through their heads, you have a disastrous situation. You have a set up for tragedy.
The spread of these laws needs to stop.
Now: back to the subject of whether or not the Sanford Police racially profiled Zimmerman. Why do I say that he was? The police report listed Zimmerman as white. After this, the following occurred:
- Shooting Victim Treyvon Martin was drug tested
- Shooter George Zimmerman was neither drug nor alcohol tested
- Shooting Victim Treyvon Martin's cellphone was not used to contact his family
- Shooting Victim Treyvon Martin was allowed to sit in the morgue as a John Doe for 3 days
- Shooter George Zimmerman was not taken into custody
- A month later, Shooter George Zimmerman is not in custody
- A month later, the practices of the Sanford Police Department are under investigation
It is pure speculation to suggest that the Sanford Police Department would have handled things differently if Zimmerman had been perceived as Latino (his mother is Peruvian). So let's speculate:
Do you think that the Sanford Police Department's handling of the case was influenced by the perception that Zimmerman was a white man? Do you think they would have handled it differently if they though of him as Latino? Discuss. Comments are more than welcome, they are desired.