Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
Once again, an issue that includes race as just one factor is becoming the focal point. And why it’s time to take step back for everyone to take a step from the Trayvon Martin case. See the case at the 50,000 ft level.
So I’ve spent most of this week in my blog talking about race. I’m tired. Or more like frustrated with how we talk about race. It is one of those topics where the dialogue from all the parties involved is reactively and emotionally delivered. Usually prompted by a racial incident that suddenly drops into public awareness.
And like me, or whatever side of the issue you are on, I think you do that, come at it with bad mood – not due to the incident itself, but that grumpy mood we have when you are forced to take on a demanding drama, suddenly and half-asleep with no time to focus. A platform that sets the ground for intelligent, measured conversation (sarcasm). When it comes to race, we do this often. Why?
Kicking the can down the road. The only time people want to talk about race on a national level – or outside the dialogue of race that feels victimized, is when issues around race force themselves upon us. It’s a bit like talking about how to fix the leaky roof only when it’s raining. And when its not, people get mad at you for always bringing up the leaky roof. And to stop bothering them.
And with Trayvon Martin case, it’s raining again.
And this event had race. And some racism (likely). But increasingly among people and the media, what this case doesn’t seem to have is perspective. We seem to forget that race here is only an ingredient in what seems to be the perfect storm of testosterone, visions of grandeur of a neighbor protector that is a TJ Hooker (look it up) wannabe and a law (Stand Your Ground) that’s too vaguely written at best and helped enable this guy and his faults. Elements, essentially inert, but deadly when added together.
Yet race seems to have become the focal point. Like many camera heavy events, the case is a media circus. But now the clown acts are starting to run the circus. The New Black Panther Party put a bounty on George Zimmerman. Al Sharpton is channeling his 80s civil rights protests. Newspaper and pundits using are race as both attack and defense. Some inferring that the race of Trayvon Martin means the boy was likely to be the aggressor or criminal while or not worth this leve of coverage while others seem to imply that if George Zimmerman is not white, then race can’t be the motive. And the media which follows heat more than light is sucked into the narrative. More and more focusing on race and the clown acts willing to dance for us.
And as they do, people including me will follow. Even if we intellectually know better. We’ll be exposed to tinged racial statements on each side of the case that, because they are true or blatantly outrageous, we will follow our anger and just look at the race side of the story.
We as a country use the word racism in the same way people use the word slut. Once you say it, intelligent conversation or teachable dialogue goes off the table and people run to emotional and ego battle stations. Because we’re retrained to respond as if a fight is about to break out (and even if by Pygmalion effect, it usually does). Just as it is now in the Martin case.
Words like “justice” “race card” and “reverse-racism” get loaded by pundits and protesters as verbally bullets to attack and repel.
All this while the heart of the story is. Is a man who killed a child responsible. And is he responsible under a reasonable understanding of the law.
Race may be a mindset that might be a part of the motive – it is not his action. At the end of the day, the focus is whether Zimmerman rightly used force in self-defense. The public drift into race is a bit like a crime of passion – like killing your wife after discovering an affair. Rage. Anger. Maybe anger against women. But in term of justice, the only real question: did you kill that wife. Why or the mindset you had is only for context of guilt.
From the recent story of White supremacists hacking Trayvon’s mail and posting fake pictures, to black pundits talking about what it’s like to be black in America to Geraldo’s “hoodie” statement and yes, even my little mini rant that connected racial attitudes of the Hunger Games to the Martin case, we’re sliding off course from the real focus. A dead boy. And is someone responsible under the law.
This case is appalling. An unarmed boy was shot. But this is not the case to hang all the problems of race on. In this case, race may likely distort justice to the needs and issues of the pundits, talking heads, interest groups and protestors rather than empower it.