TIME Mag: One Good Thing About Zimmerman Verdict Is Exposing White Privilege
They can’t help it.
Democrats are determined to make the Zimmerman verdict about racism.
If there is one hopeful note amid all the anguish and recrimination from the acquittal of George Zimmerman, it’s that growing numbers of white people have come to appreciate whiteness for what it is: an unearned set of privileges. And as a result of that dawning awareness, it’s become possible to imagine a day when that structure of privilege is dismantled — by white people.
Recall that immediately after the killing of Trayvon Martin, people of every race took to the Internet to declare “I am Trayvon Martin.” They wore hoodies. They proclaimed solidarity. That was a well-meaning and earnest attempt to express empathy, but it also obscured the core issue, which is that Martin died not because he was wearing a hoodie but because he was wearing a hoodie while black. Blackness was the fatal variable.
(MORE: Maya Angelou Reacts to Zimmerman Trial, Evokes Civil Rights Era)
And so now, postverdict, a more realistic meme has taken root. On Tumblr and Facebook and elsewhere there is a new viral phenomenon: “We are not Trayvon Martin” (emphasis mine). Huge numbers of white Americans are posting testimonials and images to declare that it is precisely because they are not black that they have never had to confront the awful choices Martin faced when Zimmerman began to pursue him.
This isn’t about empathy or the posture of equivalency that empathy can tempt us to assume. It’s about owning up to the unequal privilege of being nonblack and saying, in essence, “I am George Zimmerman.” And because I am George Zimmerman, I get to have my fears trump reality. I get get-out-of-jail-free cards. I get a presumption of innocent victimhood, no matter what my own acts or attitudes.
Much has been made about the fact that Zimmerman is white and of Hispanic ethnicity, as if he therefore couldn’t possibly embody white privilege. This is a deep misreading of the dynamics of race and the media in America…
“White Hispanic” George Zimmerman is a Democrat. He voted for Obama and tutored young black kids.