There is nothing that would have mitigated the pain caused by Trayvon Martin’s murder. Sure, these things have been happening forever but, once we saw his face and knew the circumstances, and once the right jumped in to denigrate him and defend George Zimmerman, the stakes were raised. How one felt about Trayvon and Zimmerman became a litmus test about how one felt about basic equality and justice for African Americans.

Not long ago, acquittal would have been as predictable as the sunset.

But Barack Obama’s election to the presidency twice made some of us (not the smartest of us, I’m afraid, including me) believe that it was a new day. No, not that race no longer mattered but that virulent racism was dying.

That misapprehension started to erode when we watched the Republicans (led by Senator Mitch McConnell) assert flat out that they would not accept Obama’s legitimacy. It was no surprise that the right would not accept a Democratic president (its rejection of democracy became obvious during the Clinton years) but it was something of a surprise that Obama’s election legitimized racism for the GOP, for Drudge, Trump, Coulter, Carlson and the right in Congress. Didn’t they have to accept a president who won over 50% of the vote twice? After all, we accepted Bush even though he hadn’t won at all.

But no they didn’t. His black skin was infinitely more significant to the right than the fact that he is President.

And so it was clear, racism only increases when African Americans rise. Just like anti-Semitism in 20th century Germany, it is the very success of the hated minority that exacerbates hatred on the part of those who have nothing to take pride in except their precious racial status,

And the reaction to Trayvon and Zimmerman demonstrated it yet again. The President was exactly right. If Barack Obama had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon Martin. And that is the entire story of this horrific situation. They couldn’t get Obama. But they did get Trayvon.

And that is what the right is celebrating. The only thing better would be if they could get Barack Obama off that list of 44 presidents. But they can’t. And that is, for the right, the hurt that will last forever.

***

I have two sons. And they were typical teenagers. They got into trouble.

And we worried about them. A lot. Especially when they were hanging out in DC (their lives were the hip hop music scene).

But, to be honest, our worries focused on two things: car accidents and meeting up with some hopped up jerk with a gun.

Thank God, neither ever happened.

But they are white. Once, one son was unfairly picked up by a cop. He was with a black friend and they were taken to the police station. The cops called me and I came to the station to spring him.

The cops were as nice as can be. But, when my son came out, he was enraged. The cops had not called the black kid’s parents. He was still in there. And, unlike my boy, who got to call me and was just sitting and waiting for me, the black kid was handcuffed to a chair and his shoelaces were taken away. (Were they afraid he’d commit suicide with them?)

My kid was horrified. They both were doing the same dumbass thing. But his friend was treated like a gangster.

I remember thinking that I couldn’t stand it if my boys were black. In addition to all the other random dangers teens face, black kids have to worry about the cops too or pseudo cops like George Zimmerman.

This verdict only confirms what black parents already knew: it is not safe out there for their boys. The good thing: maybe now their sons understand what their parents are so anxious about. Black parents aren’t paranoid. They know that their boys are at risk. Everywhere.

As for the George Zimmermans of this country, they now know they can kill and get away with it. The cops even gave Zimmerman back the gun with which he killed Trayvon.

I doubt he’ll use it again. But rest assured other George Zimmermans will and more Trayvons will die. And a large percentage of the country will be just fine with that.

I am glad I’m not black. I just don’t have the courage for it.


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