I am George Zimmerman.
That’s the statement that’s missing from talk about white privilege. I can talk all day about how had I been in Trayvon’s place, I wouldn’t have been murdered, but that fails to respect privilege as lethal. The flip side, though, is equally true and rarely discussed. If I was George Zimmerman, I, too, in all likelihood, would have walked away from slaying a child totally free.
I describe myself as an ally, but when something like this happens, I have to dig real dip because the temptation is to sympathize with Trayvon, post a bunch of critical race articles on my Twitter and Facebook feeds, have a couple of solid conversations with friends, and then move on.
But those actions do nothing to recognize or make up for my privilege. In fact, these actions are made easier by my privilege. That I am able to, without emotion, rationally consider every legal and racial side of this argument so easily is because I do not feel the urgency that a different color of skin might give me.
And my identification with Zimmerman goes much further. Because privilege acts without me having to do anything, it and racism are part of my natural state. Racism and prejudice have been totally socialized into me. In two weeks, I’m moving to Detroit. The first thing people say to me is usually “You should take self-defense classes” or “You should buy a gun.” What? So I can protect myself from Trayvon? But it’s hard not to begin to believe them.
The truth is this: every moment that I am not being actively anti-racist, I am loading a gun for someone more bigoted than I. People like me, for fear of our lives, created the Stand Your Gun laws, enabling Zimmerman to kill a young black man and never have to pay for it. It’s time we owned up to it.
“The truth is this: every moment that I am not being actively anti-racist, I am loading a gun for someone more bigoted than I.”
well said, Spencer.