I am a 24-year-old, college educated, white male living in the United States and living here just became a little bit frightening. This isn’t a tongue-in-cheek economic statement. Nor am I implying that I am living in a warzone. I’m sorry, I’m not being clear. Its just that it’s very difficult to say, “it’s scary to live (insert place here).” People are going to think. They will make inferences, so you have to be very clear about what you mean.
I am a white man in Florida and I feel less safe living in America because I am afraid that a man is going to get away with the cold-blooded murder of a child. Its probable and likely – I think (maybe I have to think) – that the law will come down on this man. Justice will find a way. Again, for clarity’s sake, I do not mean “southern justice”. I mean I can imagine now that Sanford has handed this over to the State; the State will bring charges, Zimmerman will be defined as having acted outside the protections granted by the “stand your ground” law and he will be convicted after a heavily covered trial and imprisoned for a time insufficient to console anyone, most tragically Martin’s family.
I can also imagine a situation that’s less likely but feels more real. It feels like the last few years as a news reading person in Florida feels. Sort of like this: The State will bring charges and after a short case with lots of intentional hand-wringing (so that the people most incensed can feel vindicated) Zimmerman will be acquitted. Or the state won’t ever even bring charges, probably fearing a Constitutional challenge to the “stand your ground law” – which differs from everyone’s common sense notion of “self defense” only in that it removes the necessity to at least try to retreat or diffuse a threatening situation in a provable way. If you think about it, this means “justifiable homicide” has become a thing. And there’s statistics. Go look and feel shame to live in America, as well as a little scared.
So that’s what I mean. I’m white, a male, I live in America. But despite being a priveleged, educated, white male I feel like I could walk down the street in a different neighborhood in my city in Florida, I could be angrily confronted by a larger person 11 years older than me who said he’d called the cops on me for being suspicious, maybe I’m dressed ironically tramp-like, I may be convinced I need to hit him to get away, then I could be shot in the chest, dead. And no one would go to jail. If you feel comfortable, play that out in your head. Do you feel safe living in Florida tonight?
The clip embedded two paragraphs down in this link includes the 911 calls, you can hear a voice calling for help, followed by a gun shot. It’s unclear to me whose voice is calling for help. What is clear, is that an innocent person was killed and no one is in jail.
Oh, and one more thing:
Look at this face. Are you scared?
Note: Obviously this is a racial issue. You may have taken umbrage with my referring to my own race and saying (possibly) – oh but I’m white and I’m scared and that’s crazy talk! White people in America are the most safe!
I am not making a reverse racism argument. I am saying there are race issues in this country and despite these underlying race issues no one wants to talk about, someone in the “most safe” category no longer feels that way. If you feel like my choice of words cheapens the issue, I’m sorry.