I will never be Trayvon Martin. Look at me. I am a white-man from New York. I wear boat shoes and white t-shirts.
When I walk down the street in Brooklyn I am not seen as a street thug or a criminal, I am seen as normal.
I get all the things normal people expect to get - the cops don’t randomly stop and search me, strangers are generally respectful to me, and people in stores, restaurants, movie theaters etc. call me sir.
Oh yeah, no one has ever stalked me in their car and shot me to death and then been found innocent of any crime related to my death. The likelihood of that happening to me is zero.
But I don’t need to be Trayvon Martin to know that what happened to him, and James Byrd, and countless other Black men is simply wrong. I don’t have to be Trayvon Martin to stand with those who are Trayvon and say enough is enough.
I’m not Trayvon Martin and I oppose the racism that killed him, and kills him over and over.
We need to change this country.
Instead of saying “I am Trayvon Martin” it would do more good for white people [and non-Black people] in solidarity with the Trayvon Martin case to recognize all the ways they are Zimmerman.
As in, if you live in a “safe” suburban or gated community that is mostly white and that is considered a “good” neighborhood because it excludes people of colour [especially excluding Black people] then you benefit from the same conditions that created Zimmerman.
If you benefit from “police protection” to your property that depends on racial profiling of people of colour [especially Black people] and brutality towards them then you take part in the same systems that create Zimmerman.
If you have the racial privilege to work, move, live in mostly white spaces and have limited contact with… [Black people], particularly “low income” …[Black people], then you live with the same social and economic policies of casual segregation that create Zimmerman.
It’s good that people recognize the injustice of Trayvon Martin’s death, but if that recognition is not accompanied by the work to recognize and undo the systematic economic, social, educational and employment policies that create neighborhoods where Black people are seen as threatening trespassers - and how people benefit from this racial privilege - then no true anti-racist work can occur.
Nobody wants to say “I am Zimmerman” but until we recognize how Zimmerman reflects institutionalized racism there will continue to be more Trayvons.