by Tef Poe
Editor: Tef Poe is an artist from St. Louis city. Through powerful imagery and complicated honesty, he has earned a reputation as one of the best rappers telling the story of St. Louis, which is about much more than one place. Poe has been featured in music publications such as XXL and Urb Magazine. His project The Hero Killer was released on January 21 and will be followed up by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For the Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe. Get The Hero Killer here.
Several things run through my mind, as I clearly knew this week I'd have to blog about this case one way or the other. Originally I typed a blog explaining "profiling" to people who may not understand it. I read it and I disliked it because, honestly, people that don't understand profiling aren't trying to understand it so it doesn't matter if I explain it. I'm preaching to a group of people that simply lack the frame of reference to be mentally capable of embracing my sermon.
People often seem to have some form of sympathy for George Zimmerman, but the simple fact is that there's only one dead person in this situation. We want to sugar coat this incident because it's ugly and it forces us to look at our country in a light that isn't the most beautiful. I've learned that people are offended when you ask them to show their true colors in regards to racism,sexism, homophobia or any form of prejudiced discrimination. I can spend this entire blog explaining to you that from my perspective, Trayvon was a innocent teenager walking home talking on the phone to his friend.
George accused him of being suspicious, but really its the opposite. George was suspicious of Tray, and no one wants to admit that this is socially acceptable due to the way young black males are viewed by certain people. I feel as if we are blind to the fact that this man randomly started following a innocent person with a loaded gun. He was not law enforcement. Trayvon had zero obligation to respect Zimmerman and his gun.
We know Zimmerman had his gun out as he followed Trayvon, because we know he viewed him as a criminal menace due to the things he stated on the 9-11 call. Who follows and approaches a person they are assuming is a burglar without a weapon to protect themselves? George Zimmerman's mission statement in this situation speaks for itself. If Trayvon would've followed George on his way home with a loaded gun due to the fact that he assumed George was a burglar, Zimmerman would've had the same exact right to defend his self. I would've supported his stance, because in the reverse scenario he would be the victim.
The truth is in our society it's okay to follow black youth due to your suspicions. I've been followed in the grocery store by random security figures and store managers that didn't identify themselves. If in return I started following an older person of a different race, they would likely assume I'm trying to rob them. The assumption that I'm trying to protect the store or stop them from stealing wouldn't matter because they would instantly feel threatened. I might feel the same energy as I am being followed, but I'm not awarded the right to be afraid of them.
One of the jurors (B-37) recently appeared on CNN and she claimed she believed both Zimmerman and Trayvon were at fault. Let's consider that: I'm walking to the store, a man observes me through his window blinds and assumes I'm a criminal. I am being followed by a completely random and mysterious person. Shouldn't I be nervous? The problem with this scenario is there is no win for Trayvon either way the story goes. If the roles were reversed and Tray was following Zimmerman then George still has the right to claim self defense and kill. Remix the situation either way you want and Zimmerman would be allowed to get away with murder.
Zimmerman followed Trayvon with a loaded gun, shot him down and still reaped the benefit of claiming this is a self defense incident. Trayvon Martin was on trial more so than George Zimmerman. The case was basically about proving whether or not Trayvon had the right to defend himself once the fight started between Zimmerman and him. The popular concensus from the general public seems to be overwhelmingly in support of the fact that George Zimmerman did not have the right to follow and approach this teenager with his gun.
You are the instigator of the conflict, George Zimmerman. Trayvon is guilty of doing exactly what we all are taught to do by our parents in this situation. If danger approaches and you are left with no other choice than to defend yourself. He was likely nervous and scared and, let's be honest, the police in Sanford don't to seem to be the most accepting in regards to young minorities.Often in this scenario the police are not favorable to people that look like me.
In the original blog I wrote about Zimmerman a few months ago, I told the story of how I was working for Mayor Slay, canvassing in his neighborhood and had the police called on me because I appeared to be "suspicious." Never mind the fact that I had a bright yellow shirt on displaying what I was actually doing for the mayor. Never mind the fact that it was mid-day and it's not illegal to walk down the street with a clipboard. The police approached me and I asked if I could call the office to verify my story and they said no. Another incident occurs as I was walking home one night many moons ago and the police randomly stopped me and searched me. They had guns drawn and aimed at me immediately. Another incident occurs as I am sitting in my friend's living room, and the police storm into her home through the back door with guns drawn, assuming I am a burglar because her black neighbor called the cops on me.
Each and every time this type of interaction occurred with police I was found innocent of any wrong-doing and released. The truth is, though, that at any random moment they could've mistakenly shot me or arrested me. So in Trayvon's mind, if he calls the police on Zimmerman they either won't show up or aren't on his side. I can relate to this because it happens all the time. I had a gun pulled on me by a random person years ago when I lived in Tennessee. I called the police and they treated me like I was the criminal. They showed up two hours after the fact. If I would've fought this person and suffered from a gunshot to the chest I still would've been the one doing wrong. There is no win when dealing with law enforcement for us sometimes. Aside from this, George Zimmerman was the aggressor the very second he decided to disobey the police dispatcher's orders to not follow Trayvon Martin. When I listened to the tapes and heard the dispatcher tell him to not follow Trayvon I knew they were attempting to prevent something like this from happening. You're not a police officer.You have zero authority over the next person. You are not trained to handle a situation of this nature.
Needless to say people assume young black males aren't fearful of interacting with random white males. The assumption is that we are blind to the fact that Jeffrey Dahmer, Charlie Manson, Ed Gein, Ted Bundy, David Berkowitz, John Wayne Gacy and Albert Fish are all white males. All of the above are serial killers that abducted and murdered random people for absolutely nothing. George Zimmerman didn't have to rape or abduct anyone to catch his body. He simply followed an innocent teenager that was heading home and killed him.
I watched the anonymous Juror B-37 speak on CNN and it angered me. She blatantly used language that showcased a cultural and racial divide between herself and the victim. It's completely ignorant to say that race had nothing to do with the verdict. The way she described Rachel Jeantel as a "poor uneducated black girl that was afraid to talk in front of us" was simply offensive.This girl is 19 years old and was thrown face first onto the biggest stage of her life. Her friend was murdered while she was on the phone with him. Juror B-37 sounds as if she had a ton of pre-conceived notions about Rachel.
We all know Rachel didn't do a great job on the stand, but we also can clearly listen to B-37's interview and notice she is one breath away from referring to Trayvon and Rachel as "those people." She likely views Rachel as a charity case from the "hood" and is not capable of seeing an ounce of credibility in her testimony. This jury was selected to be a jury of Zimmerman's peers. Lets remember George Zimmerman himself profiled Trayvon Martin as a thug, so it stands to reason that a jury of his peers is likely to do the same exact thing.
Conversely, she spoke of George Zimmerman as if he was a total complete saint. This is the benefit of white privilege working in George Zimmerman's favor. The instant assumption is his life was in danger, despite the fact that he's the only one still alive from this conflict and he's also the only one that had a deadly weapon in his possession. Trayvon Martin's honor never stood a chance in this courtroom because from the start we're dealing with a jury that appears to sympathize with the Zimmermans because they come from the same exact cultural standpoint as him.
Juror B-37 constantly referred to him as "George" in a warm and heartfelt manor. Her son or her husband could easily be Zimmerman. In her culture Zimmerman is a hero because he saw the mysterious hooded person walking down the street and approached them. To B-37 it allegedly doesn't matter if Trayvon was white or black in her mind. From her perspective George Zimmerman was brave enough to investigate this person and approach them. The fact that Trayvon just so happened to be black confirms that George was simply trying to do the right thing in her mind. We all watch the nightly news and see the violent crimes committed by young black males. This is how people like her think, and these are the things they say among each other to justify their ignorant depiction of black males.
To juror B-37, Trayvon could've easily been an actual criminal. It just so happened that this time he wasn't in the process of doing anything wrong. The character of the murder victim was on trial. We see this same exact scenario take place during high-profile rape trials. The victim is put on trial because the jury comes from the same exact cultural background of the perpetrator and they are not capable of understanding the range of guilt involved in the actual crime. They themselves would've possibly done the same exact thing if they were in Zimmerman's shoes. It's okay to follow any random suspicious person, especially if they are a young black male and a string of burglaries recently happened in your neighborhood. Juror B-37 says they thought about the verdict for hours and cried over it for hours afterwards. If justice is served and you truly believe George Zimmerman was saving his life you should feel great, because you kept an innocent man from going to prison. But I believe deep down inside all parties know the responsible thing for Zimmerman to do was to avoid contact with Trayvon Martin and allow the police to handle the situation. Imagine if we all decided to grab our registered guns and follow random people in the name of preventing crime.
The U-City Loop is a high burglary area. Imagine if I looked out the window of a U-City Loop apartment and followed random people standing in front. If I lived in Sanford I'd protest this case by calling the police on any and all random individuals that didn't look like me. I'd then proceed to follow them with a loaded handgun. Seriously, let's reverse this scenario and put a young black male behind a 30-something year old person of a different color, with a loaded gun. If Trayvon Martin would've shot and killed George Zimmerman it wouldn't have mattered if his life was in danger or not. Trayvon would be in prison for second degree murder today. The gun could've been completely registered and legal; it still wouldn't have mattered. Juror B-37 sat on CNN crying "it's so sad that someone lost their life and nothing could be done about it." You were supposed to convict George Zimmerman of manslaughter, at least, and this is what would've been done.
But in this courtroom Zimmerman's story was more relatable. The evidence appeared to support the fact that Trayvon could've walked away from George and ignored the fact that he was following him. This is how racism works in America. We are supposed to give prejudiced whites the benefit of the doubt. If a random black person was following Trayvon Martin with a loaded gun and Trayvon decided to approach him then this incident would be viewed as Trayvon Martin being scared to death and seeking a way to defend himself in a situation against a potential predator. The fact of the matter is since Zimmerman is not black, in the eyes of society (and apparently to the jury) Trayvon Martin was supposed to give him the benefit of the doubt.
He was supposed to get off the telephone, activate a fake phony colgate white smile and ask in a very passive manner, "Hey man why are you following me, can I help you?" Zimmerman would then in return take the authoritative position over Trayvon and ask him "What are you doing in this neighborhood?" Trayvon doesn't have to answer to George Zimmerman whatsoever, but the socially correct thing for him to do was press pause on his life for a brief second and bow down to George's assumptions in hopes of proving to George that he was just a regular person walking home in the rain.
I watched juror B-37 sit on TV and cry about the fact that George Zimmerman's life is ruined. She says she feels sorry for George Zimmerman. She simply saw this as a second degree murder case. In her mind it stops and starts with the fact that George Zimmerman is not guilty. If Trayvon Martin would've shot George Zimmerman and the fight went in Zimmerman's favor she would've still had the same amount of sympathy for George Zimmerman. In her world there is no sympathizing with minorities. We apparently live in a different world and have different concerns. Our children aren't children in her eyes; Trayvon is not a teenager being followed by a mysterious adult to her. Trayvon was taller than George Zimmerman and his skin is darker, so he is in turn a much more menacing character to juror B-37.
Trayvon Martin was not humanized in this courtroom, so the jury walked away feeling as if George Zimmerman actually had no other choice but to shoot him. We do not bleed red blood and breathe oxygen apparently to people like her. She also said she would feel comfortable with George Zimmerman being her neighborhood watch captain today because he has now learned his lesson. This saddens me, because he learned this lesson at the price of taking an innocent life. The stand your ground law does not apply to Trayvon Martin, who was followed by Zimmerman for absolutely nothing. Zimmerman killed Trayvon and was not drug tested by the police. If I hurt myself while working at WalMart they will instantly drug test me, but he killed an entire human being and no one thought to drug test him to see if he was under the influence of anything. Trayvon Martin's cold body, however, was indeed drug tested even though he was dead and gone. No mercy was granted to Trayvon Martin as George Zimmerman shot him and slept in the comforts of his own bed that night. Trayvon Martin's corpse was devalued in the courtroom.
The margin of sympathy swayed in Zimmerman's favor because his caucasian father looks like B-37's father, husband and son. During B-37's CNN interview she hardly mentioned the dead person. This showcases a lack of value and concern in regards to Trayvon Martin's side of the story.The big black gorilla attacked Zimmerman and he had no other choice but to shoot in him the chest. Never mind the fact that George was the actual antagonist.
He was curious about Trayvon being in his neighborhood. Well, Trayvon lived in the same exact neighborhood as George Zimmerman, so as the neighborhood watch captain it was Zimmerman's duty to offer this teenager his protective services. He didn't recognize Tray as a member of his community because he chose not to. His father is a white judge and this judicial system doesn't always showcase the most positive images of black people. So George was more than likely raised in a household that bred him to think this way. Zimmerman's neighborhood watch post was designed to protect them and not us. We were viewed as the criminals in Zimmerman's eyes despite the fact we live and reside in the same exact community as him. We are viewed as the problematic element of George's community. This is the reason whites in St.Charles and Chesterfield flee from the possibility of black neighbors.
Juror B-37 said she understood Georges desire to investigate Trayvon because of the string of burglaries in his neighborhood. Let's pause this. What did Trayvon Martin have to do with those crimes? Trayvon was black and in Zimmerman's mind these crimes were being committed by young black men. So instantly the sight of a random black male on his cell phone lazily loping home in the rain is suspicious to George. Trayvon isn't dead because George Zimmerman was in danger. He's dead because George Zimmerman followed him and shot him. If you follow me with a loaded gun, regardless of the color of your skin I will turn around and beat the bloody life out of your soul.
When it comes to implicit racism people all of a sudden like to act dumb. In my opinion B-37 sounds slow and mentally off in some regards, but this is how people act when race is an issue and they don't want to own up to the reality of the situation. Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon. This is a racist act, but it doesn't mean Zimmerman is a low-down racist. You don't have to be Adolf Hitler to commit a racist act. People defend Zimmerman in this scenario because the nature of racism is so ugly that no one wants to be left in this category.
The Trayvon Martin murder case forces us to be honest about two things. This country was founded on the shoulders of the enslavement of black people and the genocide of Native Americans. This means we are still dealing with the after-taste of black people and other minorities being viewed and treated as second-class citizens. This country was also founded on the belief that every man has the right to arm himself. We are a country of guns and a country of implicit and blatant racism. Trayvon Martin, as a second-class citizen, did not have the right to respond to Zimmerman's shady and lurking passive-aggressive behavior with violence. Zimmerman had all the right in the world to approach Trayvon Martin with his gun.
I typically don't agree with anything Piers Morgan says because I find his interviews boring, but he spoke truth when he said "I believe George Zimmerman would not have had the courage to follow Trayvon Martin had he not had a concealed weapon in his possession." This is the reality of the situation: Zimmerman wasn't following Trayvon to give him a batch of flowers. He thought he was a rogue vigilante and decided to take matters into his own hands. He thought he was Charles Bronson, Walker Texas Ranger, all of the above. In America it's acceptable for Zimmerman to be a vigilante. It is not acceptable for Trayvon Martin to defend himself against this person even though he has not committed a crime.
Zimmerman bought this gun with the sole intent of mocking law enforcement and using it one day. He was not a trained law enforcement officer and he had absolutely no authority over Trayvon. But due to white privilege and all things associated with being a psychopath he was granted this authority. He knew this when he approached Trayvon and followed him. He was also aware of this after the fight between them resulted in him shooting Trayvon. Trayvon was the big black beast and his fists were more deadly than the actual gunshot that killed him. George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin and is at home clipping his toenails as we speak.
It was 7 p.m. and the sun was still up. Most neighborhoods are very active at this point. People are walking their dogs; enjoying their lives. Trayvon Martin was walking down the street and Zimmerman ran outside with a gun and expected Trayvon to bow down to him. Trayvon didn't bow down to this random person and his gun so Trayvon died. If Trayvon Martin was a white woman carrying grocery bags home in the rain he would still be alive today and Zimmerman would've likely not shot him down.
Of course Zimmerman was in fear for his life; he's not an actual police officer and he's following a person he believes to be a criminal. I'd be in fear for my life also if I honestly believed I was fighting a hardened thug that wouldn't hesitate to kill me. The problem is that he wasn't fighting a hardened thug that left his home with the intent to run into George Zimmerman and kill him. He was fighting a 17 year old teenager. This teenager died. His blood is on George Zimmerman's hands.