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Sunday, July 14, 2013

America is in Dire Need of "White, Liberal Guilt"

On Saturday night, George Zimmerman was found "not guilty" in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Regardless of what has been said about the case, here are three irrefutable facts: 1) Zimmerman had a history of making unnecessary 911 calls about "suspicious" black persons in his neighborhood, 2) he followed Trayvon Martin, got out of his truck, and further pursued him despite being told not to by dispatch, and 3) he did so with a gun.

We can argue over the reasons for a "not guilty" verdict, all day: the prosecution team was weak, the judicial system technically did its job but is very flawed, etc.

But one thing is clear: a light-skinned, prejudiced man followed an unarmed black teenager for no reason more than that he "looked suspicious", and this led to that teen's death.

And here's a sad truth: I'll still continue my late night walks in D.C. because white men don't get pursued and shot in this country without consequences. We may be the victims of crime, but if the suspect is non-white and is caught (guilty or not), more than likely, a price will be paid.

My friend put it succinctly, last month: "White men are allowed to get angry." I thought I understood it when she said it, but I'm realizing now that I did not.

White men are allowed to express anger. We are allowed to express hurt. We are allowed to act on suspicion and concern. We are allowed to speak freely. This isn't to say these feelings aren't acceptable, but it does mean they are validated by a society in which power is monopolized by men of light skin, whereas concerns expressed by people of color are scrutinized by a ridiculous "playing the race card" theory.

If a stranger approached you with a gun, late at night, how would you react? As a white person, I am permitted to attack and defend myself. People of color, within seconds, must consider how this will look to a jury.

Think that's off-base? Last month, Dr. Marissa Alexander, a black woman, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot in front of her abusive ex-husband. In her home. In Florida. The "Stand Your Ground" law of that state that was used to defend George Zimmerman was dismissed in Dr. Alexander's case.


I love those conservatives who keep making accusations of "white, liberal guilt".

You are absolutely right: I am white, I am liberal, and I feel guilty--as in complicit--that I live in a society that affords me greater privilege because of my skin color; an unarmed black teenager was profiled, pursued, and gunned down when he fought back against an unfamiliar man who approached him with a gun.

We failed Trayvon, and we failed ourselves. Simple as that.

How many more innocent lives will be lost until we finally have an honest conversation about race in this country? The United States could use more white Americans with "guilt" who are ready to come forward and have that conversation.


  1. Charles, I also feel guilty. What happened was tragic, etc. I feel guilty, however, not because of sensual entitlements you feel the Caucasian man has in America. I feel guilty because of all of the influences Travon had been subjected to, growing up in the 21st century, surely convincing himself he was to be attacked by Zimmerman on that dark rainy night. Influences that your writing as an adult helps form.

    Yes, our judicial system is flawed but this is by no means the proper trial to use as the bridge towards reform. That being said, the media must stop--although it is far, far too late--exacerbating the idea of a hate crime. Why? because it leads to further the paranoia that Negro men and women feel living in the US. This "paranoia" that I speak of is what led Travon to INCRIMINATE himself, ultimately yielding Zimmerman JUSTICE.
    * * *
    How did Travon incriminate himself...?

    I must ask with all respect, did you follow the trial closely? If so, you must have failed to acknowledge that it was Travon, according to all evidence, whom initiated the physical part of the confrontation. As well as the fact that Zimmerman did not wield a gun the few moments in which he and Travon were face to face.
    "...and gunned down when he fought back against an unfamiliar man who approached him with a gun." The only person who "fought back" was Zimmerman, during the split second in which he pulled the trigger of his, until then, concealed firearm.

    Imagine this, what if Travon did not strike Zimmerman, proceeding to strike him, giving Zimmerman lawful means to act as he would moments later? What would have happened? Would Zimmerman still have killed Travon? No, Travon would have waited until the police came, proving his innocence, making Zimmerman look entirely idiotic.

    So why did he strike first? He felt obligated to. After all, with all the racism and hate Travon and I had grown up hearing about present in this country, of course he felt this "white-hispanic" (ridiculous) man had malicious intent while following him. Even I, as an eighteen year old white male of Chicago, would be convinced that some man following me (especially if I was black), would have acted exactly as Travon did.

    If George Zimmerman had been following me that night, I would be dead right now, too. Upon entering a close distance with some short, pudgy hispanic, who had been eerily following me, BAM! I would have done just as Travon did. Only difference, obviously, is that no national trial would follow. Similar to how no trial would have followed had Zimmerman been a Negro man. I would have been seen as a scared, impulsively acting teenager who jumped to conclusions, which yielded tragedy. A tragedy in which a boy, in a society where the truth is so deeply fragmented, falsely identified a hero as a villain, and died of it. It is this paranoia, fed by the media, fed by you, that further buries the American in social uncertainty (especially Negro Americans). It is this paranoia that promotes quick, irrational homicides all over my home city of Chicago when, at the end of the day, most people are today-ed; understood of the follies of bigotry.

    The American media needs to revive the "neighborhood watchmen" of society; heroes. The people who have nothing but pure intentions in their heart, and live in accordance with a deeper sense of humanity. Not the "white-hispanics" who, irreproachably, are sadistic racists.

    I pray that you see my logic in thought...

    God Bless.

    Brett Goss


  2. at the end of the 5th paragraph-ish, i meant to say that I also would have believed that Zimmerman had wrong intentions.

  3. BTW, if you want to "help out," as you may be convicted you are doing and, as Juan Williams just put perfectly, shed some light on crime in Chicago. Where a similar event to that of Travon happens everyday! EVERYDAY!!!


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