Time for Sanity to Stand Its Ground: A Call for Peace

[Author’s note—The Trayvon Martin killing affected me greatly when it occurred. I was indignant that George Zimmerman was not arrested. At the time, the pictures of blood on his face and head were not available to the public. We had the 911 tapes, however, and they seemed a clear indication that a racist had stalked an unarmed black boy and shot him vigilante-style (Honestly, the tapes still clearly indicate this to me). I symbolically wore a hoodie to my classes, informed my students about stand-your-ground laws and racism, and campaigned for his arrest prior to it happening. I received several glowering looks from some of the elder white faculty where I worked at the time…I still remember one particularly cantankerous old professor stopping dead in his tracks in the hallway when he recognized me in a hoodie. When the trial happened, I watched the proceedings thoroughly. I was very confused by the prosecution’s neglect to indicate that racism might have been a factor of Zimmerman’s motive. We seem to forget about the utterance of “coon” on the 911 tapes, and Zimmerman himself testified to police about Martin’s thug-like circling of his car, lifting his shirt as if to threaten with a gun. Zimmerman’s act of getting out of the car to trail Martin should have been the prima facie case, but the prosecution decided not to focus on it. Either they were too scared to take on the difficult topic of possible racism, or like much of our society today, they thought that not mentioning racism means that we don’t live in a racist society…that we can’t live in a racist America, where blacks and whites might still hold animosity for one another. After the verdict was handed down, where Zimmerman got to walk out a free man, I was depressed…I still am. I lost sleep for the entirety of that night. At about 4 in the morning after the verdict, I threw back the covers, frustrated from a lack of sleep, and decided to write down my angry response to the George Zimmerman trial. The following transcript is what I wrote. It is loaded with trite sarcasm, as I do not understand how such travesties occur. Please forgive my offensive tone, but understand, clearly, that I remain adamantly offended by the death of Trayvon Martin and the freedom of George Zimmerman.—SG]

Stand your ground. It’s appropriate that Mark O’Meara had to rip a chunk of concrete out of that legally-defined ground and drop it in the middle of a court room to get a not-guilty verdict for George Zimmerman.

Mark O’Meara successfully defended his client, but the true victory comes for the NRA, by proxy. Standing your ground, since the ground counts as a deadly weapon according to Mr. O’Meara’s closing statement, will now require a handgun to properly stand your ground. You used to have to bring a handgun to win a knife fight, but now potentially-available sidewalk will suffice as a murder weapon. Not a means of self-defense. Now you need to be heavily armed in order to walk on that sidewalk.

Your neighbors might be out to get you. What a chilling message this verdict sends to modern America.

This cannot be the future. I thought we had already evolved out of the Wild West. Modern-day Chicago turns out to be a touch wilder. The Wild Mid-West.

Americans have been encouraged to go out and arm themselves. Wayne LaPierre recommends the AR-15 model, instead of the pistol that George Zimmerman possessed. Pistols are for teachers. Teachers are new to the self-defense game. Today’s neighborhood watch “officer” should upgrade to the AR-15. Users of the assault rifle shouldn’t be constrained to psychotic movie theatre murderers or slaughterers of kindergarten-aged children and their primary-education teachers.

How are we supposed to address our neighbors after this verdict? I walked to the store the morning of jury deliberations and found myself having to wonder if a young black boy, who was helping a younger girl ride a bike with training wheels, thought I was dangerous. I was walking down his sidewalk, and I wondered if I should move elsewhere. I wondered if he thought I had a gun. I smiled with as much friendly bravado as possible to him, and greeted him, “Good morning!” He didn’t meet my eyes. I kept walking, but I felt bad because I understand what this stupid killing of Trayvon Martin means to my black community.

I am white. I sometimes wish I wasn’t. Because of days like July 13th, 2013. Because of shame and embarrassment of being white.

My black brothers and sisters understand that it is unfathomable for a white person to not want to be white.

Understandable because being black so completely sucks at times in white America. Some might say it sucks most of the time. Fox News should stop trying to convince us otherwise.

Your son might be shot because he’s black. He wears a hoodie, after all (like my daughter often wears). He walks around in the rain when he should go home. He leaps out in the dark and lands blows successfully on a defenseless (yet armed) neighborhood stalker. White America so easily accepts that Trayvon had murder in his heart, and only gun-owners could defend themselves from the scary black youths in our community. What a confounding verdict.

It’s much more understandable for people to start realizing that guns are not toys. We shouldn’t be fueling this confrontational fright that has been generated from both sides of the racial aisle.

Unfortunately, black America has a much longer legacy of fearing white citizens, with complete justification. Whites have put blacks in chains and forced them into labor. In this country, as recently as the nineteenth century. Hell, the twentieth century was NOT all compatible. The present is perhaps scariest for black youths. In Chicago, a culture has surfaced where youth expect to get shot. Not only fear it, but expect it.

Blacks in 2013 have been reminded that white America thinks they have greater justification to fear. Because of a six-person jury in Florida. Certainly not the first time this has happened in Florida. This occasion certainly has more media exposure. Perhaps because media had yet to be borne in the age of slavery. Certainly media with Twitter had yet to even be conceived.

Current racial tension occurs most often because of the sacred trust modern America has placed in the second amendment. The black and white schism of America has been enflamed by shadily-passed stand-your-ground laws and Wayne LaPierre.

Let’s just get along. I don’t mind quoting Rodney King because he made the most sense in that period of racial tension in this country.

But let’s go further. Let’s just drop our guns out of our holsters already.

Get rid of the guns.

Yeah. I said it. I’d say, “so shoot me,” but I can think of very little that is more horrifying than being shot with a gun. I’ve shot handguns and rifles. I’ve witnessed the damage a bullet can do first hand. I’ve seen gunshot wounds on human beings. I have trouble understanding America’s obsession with the “right” to use a gun on another human being. I can think of nothing scarier in today’s social attitude.

Well, perhaps, I can. When you mix racial tension with weapons, it tends to become more horrifying. Apparently, if you are black and male and happen to be a teenager, then you have a greater probability of being shot.

Because white America is afraid of you.

I am a teacher. I refuse to strap a weapon on my person. I want to talk to everyone who lives around me. I don’t care about your color. I don’t care if you don’t have documentation. You live here. You live with me. I want to do right by you.

Excuse me if I believe that is the true American way. I am a teacher, after all.

We have to stop this. We have to stop hating one another.

We need to drop our deadly arms. Then, we need to extend our human arms and embrace each other.

We need to consider Trayvon Martin’s parents first and foremost.

I have no consideration of George Zimmerman’s giddiness after learning he didn’t have to go to American hell. That’s reserved for marijuana users. Black marijuana users, that is.

Gun-enthusiasts seem to have reason to celebrate. White gun owners should tone down their celebratory rhetoric for fear of betraying their prejudicial leanings. They might reveal how many white gun owners are secretly white supremacists. How many of them fantasize about what it must be like to be George Zimmerman. If you don’t think this person exists in America, then please review the inane writing of Ted Nugent.

The mother of Trayvon, Sybrina Fulton, expressed verification of the screamer with the middle name of Benjamin. With force and vigor. I know when a mother knows her son. My mother knows my voice. I watched Gladys Zimmerman. I didn’t believe her. It’s purely subjective. A jury isn’t supposed to acknowledge subjective emotion. Perhaps that is a problem with our justice system, not a cornerstone.

Gladys Zimmerman was advised that her testimony would counter Sybrina’s testimony. By Zimmerman’s lawyer. This is how our legal system works. I know most Americans are supposed to be laymen (or women), but certainly we cannot assume (something O’ Meara said does not enter into jury deliberations) that legal advice for George Zimmerman involved inclusion of the “fact” that a greater number of witnesses who testified that the utterer of the screams was, in fact, George Zimmerman would mean acquittal. This would create the necessary doubt to effectively exclude the 911 recordings in their entirety.

Nevermind that it confirms that Zimmerman was a screaming girlie man that had to shoot a legally-defined child in order to defend himself (I admit this is a spiteful statement…I want no harm to come to Zimmerman…I want him to have to deal with the fact that he killed a boy with his gun for the rest of his life…I don’t think there is a more damning indictment than to have to deal with that…That is my hope, however spiteful it may be…)

Our focus, as a country, needs to focus on two primary issues: racial divide and gun proliferation.

The solution is to put down our weapons and stop this stupid, perpetual racial divide that still haunts us in the twenty-first century of America.

Stop trying to shoot in defense. Try to talk to your neighbor first. This is the American way. And don’t try to convince me otherwise, Mr. LaPierre.

I am pleading as an American citizen, as a fault-laden pacifist that wants our country to improve, let us consider foremost on the event of George Zimmerman’s acquittal the reaction of Sylvia Fulton and Tracy Martin.

They lost their son, and their country confirmed that it was justified.

There is little that we can do to reaffirm their patriotism.

Except confirm that Travyon Benjamin Martin will be remembered in our country’s annals.

Trayvon Martin will not be forgotten.

With divine hope, George Zimmerman will be forgotten from American memory.

We might forget our hatred of others and drop our guns. America might still be utopian, but we’ll have to lay down our weapons to achieve peace and honor Trayvon Martin’s memory.

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Scott C. Guffey
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4 comments

  1. “… We seem to forget about the utterance of “coon” on the 911 tapes…”

    Maybe you ought to forget it since it didn’t happen. CNN retracted that claim afer the 911 call tape was enhanced and what Zimmerman really said was that it was “f**king cold.”

    Zimmerman was (maybe still is?) a Democrat. He voted for President Obama. He himself has black relatives, tutored a black child, and launched a campaign to help a homeless black man who had been beaten by a white. All this happened before his encounter with Trayvon Martin.

    “What a chilling message this verdict sends to modern America.”

    The message that the Zimmerman verdict sent to me is that despite all the Goebbels-like propaganda demonizing Zimmerman the facts could still win out with a jury. I would like to suggest that you try – if you can – to go to the following post I wrote. I don’t care if you read my post at all. The primary purpose is the links to a series of posts written by Massad Ayoob, and expert witness retained by the Zimmerman defense.

    Inside the Zimmerman Trial
    http://free2beinamerica2.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/inside-the-zimmerman-trial/

    Read the analyss of a first hand witness, and an expert, who will explain to you what really happened. Doubt it will change your mind, but like the Zimmerman verdict, miracles sometimes do happen.

    “I am white. I sometimes wish I wasn’t. Because of days like July 13th, 2013. Because of shame and embarrassment of being white.”

    And people like you with pathological guilt are a large part of the problem. You are a racist. What is the obejctive definition of “racist”? “Racism” is the attributing of characteristics to people based on the color of their skin and not the content of their character.

    When you feel unearned guilt that is racism, even it is racism against yourself. Assuming Zimmerman was automatically guilty because Martin was black was racism. Accepting all the Goebbels-like propaganda without question was racism.

    You are not part of the solution. You are part of the problem.

    If white people truly want to help black people then accepting unearned guilt has to be discarded. Secondly we need to realize that blacks really don’t need our help so much as they need for the “do gooders” to get the hell out of their way and let them help themselves.

    regards,

    lwk

    1. I’ll go ahead and leave your post up here so people can get a taste of the cold, insulting hate speech that continues to make it impossible to actually admit racism still festers in our social conscious. If you’ve been paying such close attention to George Zimmerman, then you should know he’s not worth defending, other than for the transparent purposes of gun-advocates to cling to their need to shoot people, vigilante-style. He’s not a good guy; if you want to treat him as a hero, then I should be allowed to mention my dissent without being called “part of the problem.” I’ve heard the 911 tapes many times, and he could’ve uttered “coon” under his breath as easily as “cold” (and if it was so damn cold, why the hell get out of the car unless you’re looking for trouble?)…just hard to prove is all, just like it’s hard to prove the racism that exists in Zimmerman’s heart. You know, misogeny and rape happens, and it’s still hard to prove in a court of law. The justice system is not perfect, and calling this verdict a “miracle,” considering all of the black citizens that sit in jail for LESS than killing an unarmed child, might betray your own biases.

      For further comparison, you’ll note that Donald Sterling has people insisting he’s not a racist, despite the obviously racist rhetoric…Sterling was receiving his second award from the NAACP!…you can still be a racist even if you’re involved in projects that might mask your racism…Zimmerman discriminated against a young unarmed black boy in a hoodie who had a right to walk the sidewalk without being stalked by a self-appointed, profiling vigilante. If the previous negative acts that worked against Zimmerman in this case were excluded by the judge, then you certainly cannot ask me to exonerate him based on any of your evidence “proving” him lacking racism.

      Your last statement betrays your own racism, sir…and I feel comfortable calling you that since you called me one. I think you are confusing the act of pointing out discrimination (or being sympathetic of racism) as being discriminatory in and of itself (it’s called circular logic), but if you want closure on your claim, yes…I have earned guilt because I once had some racist views…if my guilt for trying to atone for past actions or opinions continues to make me racist, then so be it. At least I can admit it. If white people want to help black people, then they might consider stopping this asinine defense of George Zimmerman. (Don’t try to post anything else here, LWK…I am tired of your insults, distortion, and illogicality…you will be excluded from any further conversation with me, as I reserve the right to censor those who interject when I am calling for a peaceful solution. Keep your opinions out of my blog. You’re not welcome here anymore.)

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