As reports broke from Florida of George Zimmerman Shooting incident, the timeline reacted to every developing detail. The shock that Zimmerman was in legal trouble again, the complicated annoyance of the minor injuries, and the “urgent” call for empathy. Zimmerman has illustrated the complete farce of the judicial system. From his acquittal for murdering Trayvon Martin in 2012, Zimmerman has modeled the face of 21st Century racism. He benefits from proximity to whiteness and legal absolution and has seemed to consistently flail these privileges. Even his documented hunting of Black boys seems to be stripped from his narrative. Before unpacking further, a full disclaimer: I unapologetically am unconcerned with the well being of George Zimmerman, clearly White Jesus is on his side regardless.
Despite his lack of melanin, have no doubt George Zimmerman is a thug. He’s a thug in the “literally fear inducing criminal” way that gets passed off on Black people for simply breathing in public. He has been arrested for assault, complained on by his neighbors, and the dude that shot him reported Zimmerman for threats just last year. How quickly are Black boys made monsters made dangerous? How quickly are Black children denied childhood? How quickly are Black women dehumanized and discarded? And here, we have a by the book, irrefutable meance to society now playing victim. How many times have Black folks been caricatured as superhuman? George Zimmerman got shot in the face and survived. I know White Supremacy don’t have voodoo, but damn.
For the more kind-hearted among you, the apathetic framing may seem callous. You may genuinely believe that “all lives matter” and that wishing ill on Zimmerman is wrong. Your thinking may consolidate to “why stoop that low?”.
Zero sum games, like binaries and dichotomies, do little service for our society and nothing for justice. Whether serious or not, frustration Zimmerman hasn’t suffered more stems from the fact that he is a living reminder of how justice is a myth for Black folks in the eyes this country. The fact a known aggressor and murderer can wave a gun in traffic without recourse but Tamir can’t play in a park calls for callousness. Whatever fatalistic shade Black folk may be sending Zimmerman’s way, it’s from anger and frustration. Still, whatever vitriol Black folks declare toward Zimmerman (and the Whiteness that protected him) only carries so much power in our society. For Black folk to truly “stoop that low” would require centuries of unquestioned power that pit all others against each other. In a political and cultural system that does not see all lives as valuable, Black folks can more than declare vengeance. Our words unfortunately do not readily translate into laws, ideologies, and safety.
The long and short of it is this; George Zimmerman, even now, is getting more humanized than Trayvon was on that tragic night in 2012. George is getting to play victim despite his history of abuse. Someone (a white dude, thankfully) shot him after Zimmerman waved a gun AT HIM. I can’t tell you how to feel about GZ but unless he has passed in the night, let’s hope we don’t hear any more headlines about him.
Jay Dodd is a writer and performance artist based in Boston, originally from Los Angeles. After recently graduating Tufts University, Jay has organized vigils and protests locally for Black Lives Matter: Boston. When not in the streets, Jay has contributed to Huffington Post and is currently a contributing writer for VSNotebook.com, based in London. Jay Dodd is active on social media celebrating Blackness, interrogating masculinity, and complicating queerness. His poetic and performance work speaks to queer Black masculinity and afrofuturism.