As opening arguments were heard in the George Zimmerman trial today, I can’t help but think that Zimmerman, the overzealous neighborhood watchman charged in the slaying of 17-year old Trayvon Martin, is not the one being judged by a group of his peers. As defense attorney Don West callously opened today’s proceedings with a knock-knock joke, the line that has been drawn in the sand for at least 300 years has been refreshed today. A 17-year old Black boy, someone’s son/brother/nephew/cousin/friend was reduced to an opening punch line.
Ever since Trayvon Martin was killed by gunshot on February 26, 2012, it seems that he has been the one facing judgment and punishment rather than Zimmerman, the guy who was told repeatedly by police to stay in his vehicle and not approach Trayvon, who was walking back to his father’s house from a 7 Eleven. Zimmerman faces life in prison if convicted of 2nd degree murder, but it’s a big if. And if Don West’s opening joke is any indication, then it’s clear – Black men are on trial.
Black men in America have long been the hunted, ever since slavery was legally abolished by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. We’re set up to fail by rules and standards that seem unattainable and unachievable considering our living conditions, backgrounds and upbringings. We’re often viewed as a danger to a country we helped build FOR FREE and the attempt to exterminate us continues. I won’t even lie to you – this scares me. I was already conscious of how being black can be problematic (followed through a store and accused of stealing shampoo at age 16), but this trial could potentially mean open season on Black men for real.
It seems that Zimmerman’s defense team will use the “Stand your ground” law as their defense along with painting 5‘11, 160-pound Trayvon as some kind of supernatural beast. There’s already been the assertion that Trayvon was armed with concrete as the scuffle between he and Zimmerman unfolded. Still doesn’t excuse the fact that Zimmerman allegedly had a gun and allegedly shot this kid in cold blood.
It’s obvious with each passing day, with more black men running afoul of white men with guns, with laws being passed that disproportionately affect the poor and people of color, that we’re still not welcome here, some 400 years after the first slave ships reached Virginia. So pay close attention to this case. George Zimmerman might be the defendant, but it’s never been more plain that Black men, along with our right to exist peacefully in America, are the ones on trial.