The Color of Water- Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin Case

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In the midst of planning my wedding, I had to take a moment to remove the bridal veil and focus in on the inhumanity of this country.

I am re-watching Trayvon Martin’s mother take the stand and I really would like to be surprised at the outcome of this case but, this is just a sheer example of the injustice that still overshadows this country. A child is dead. A child has been taken from this country, because of his appearance and how he looked.  Wearing a hoodie and carrying a bag of Skittles, this child proved to be a “threat.” Really?

Now I am not going to go IN tonight, as it is 4:21AM CST and I need to finally go to sleep. But, black  people have been under the heels of this country for a lifetime. When minorities, all minorities, not just African Americans,are born, and do not look a certain way, I really, truly believe it determines a lot in how you are treated in this country.

It really pains me to know that Zimmerman, on a jury of women, was considered “not guilty.” Now, I know Zimmerman is part hispanic heritage- okay, fine- making him a minority. At the end of the day a crime is a crime is a crime.

I have this memory of growing up in Boston, MA. I went into a McDonald’s at the age of 12 with my Caucasian best friend and was not served. I grew up in the nineties!!!! Growing up in Boston, was not all that it was cracked up to be. I have memories of my father being spit on and called a “nigger.” I think about my aunt who attended Harvard and had the most difficult time of her life, trying to get through school.

The color of ones skin can predetermine how one is treated in this country. When are we going to medically treat this country of its racist roots? What cracks me up, is that people say, because we have a black president that we are in a “post racial society.” What a joke! Yes, Obama is the start to something, but cases like this- the Trayvon Martin case- throw us all right back into Middle Passage. Limbo. Where do we go from now? Where will we end up?

Now this blog entry is not at all intended to be a white versus black entry, although I can very EASILY make it into one. But, those who have read my “Simple Dinner Conversation” blog entry will know my stance on race period. This blog entry is intended to shed light on this country and what are the ways in which we can step outside of social media and make a change.

In about 27 days I am marrying a white British man. Who has a lot to learn about my race and ethnicity. He has a lot to learn about what it means, for me,  to be a black person in AMERICA. He has a lot to learn and understand about the history of struggle for black men and women in this country. From this Trayvon Martin case, I found myself thinking so much about my future children. If I have a son or daughter, where will we raise them? They will be the best parts of both of us and what if something like this were to happen to them? This country has too much going on and daily I have been considering raising my children abroad.

Americans in the past couple of years have: bombed a marathon; killed a young teenager in Florida; massacred a children’s school in Connecticut; killed audience members at a movie theatre. You kind of wonder what the heck is in the water? There are so many crimes that have not even been published in the news. Chicago, the place where I live currently, is one of the many murder capitals in this country. How can we get together and make a difference?

Zimmerman killed this young man, but this “case” has happened already in different forms:

2010: DJ Henry, 20, was shot through the windshield of his car as he drove away from a  disturbance outside a bar in Thornwood. Earlier in the day, he had played for Pace University’s football team on Homecoming Day. 

2006: Sean Bell, a 23-year-old New York City man due to be married later that day, walked out of a Queens strip club, climbed into a gray Nissan Altima with two friends who had been celebrating with him — and died in a hail of 50 bullets fired by a group of five police officers.

1999:  Amadou Bailo Diallo, 23-year-old immigrant from Guinea who was shot and killed in New York City on February 4, 1999 by four New York City Police Department plain-clothed officers: Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Edward McMellon and Kenneth Boss, who fired a combined total of 41 shots, 19 of which struck Diallo, outside his apartment at 1157 Wheeler Avenue in the Soundview section of The Bronx. The four were part of the now-defunct Street Crimes Unit. All four officers were acquitted at trial in Albany, New York.[1] Diallo was unarmed at the time of the shooting, and a firestorm of controversy erupted subsequent to the event as the circumstances of the shooting prompted outrage both within and outside New York City. Issues such as police brutalityracial profiling, and contagious shooting were central to the ensuing controversy.

There is a great book I read when I was little called “The Color of Water,” by James McBride. The young boy in the book asks his mother what color God is and the mother simply says “the color of water.” If God, who is supposed to be the most high, does not see color, why does it consume us?

This country has a history of suppressing minorities. Whether the suppression means throwing small pox blankets on Native Americans, stealing Africans from their once rich nations or pouncing on the Chinese for the railroads they have created, all in all, America needs to sort it out. How can we also stop internal racism as well? People of the same race killing each other for what! For gangs, for disputes, for what?

It is time to take the color war in our own hands and fight. It is time to fight for justice. As an American, I am embarrassed by this verdict, but not surprised. The law won.

In this Trayvon Martin Case, all I have to say is, in my opinion, God sees all. HE will have the ultimate justice. Luke 12:3 “Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!” It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are: karma will always have the last tee-hee. What goes around comes around. We can hopefully all agree on that.

I am all for putting on the hoodies and showing support. But, we need to do something more in our communities to protect children and adults from these monstrous crimes.

Stop the color wars. Help make a change to stop senseless acts of crime. Let’s March, Let’s get to work.

What are you going to do now? How has this case affected you? Would love to hear your thoughts?

actor | playwright | director

Danielle

17 Comments

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  1. Wow I’m blown away and I agree but as a white person what can I do to help the cause and stop this craziness in the world lets start a movement … But the question is where do we start

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  2. I am certainly feeling a lot of things about this right now, and I could say a lot, but I am choosing to listen, and let others raise their voice for a bit instead. It is so overwhelming to care, and sometimes it’s just too much! “This” is still happening, too much, too often for this day and age. I’m so tired of it all, fighting for people just to be decent to each other. And every time something like ‘this’ goes down, it makes me angry, feeling not only like I’ll be fighting this fight for the rest my life, but also that most likely my children have too as well. I will say that it’s not right. Things in the world are not right, certainly not in our country, and this is a constant talk point around my young family’s dinner table. What type of world have we brought our children into? What does it mean to be American? “Proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free”…children learn by what they see, not by what we say. Both Eric & I are gravely concerned by what “We, the People”, are teaching our youth, our future. We preach Human Rights, yet behave too often in such inhumane ways.

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  3. I completely agree with Sage. He sounds like an over privileged backwards ass who probably would have pulled the trigger himself. The part about this that bothers me most is that Zimmerman gets his gun back. How wrong is that? I think the only reason there was a tral was because of pressure from Civil Rights leaders. Why did Martin Luther King Jr. die? It is clear to the world Zimmerman considers himself White first and foremost. The fact he has Hispanic blood has no bearing on his case whatsoever. Only a racist would say this case was not about race. The sham of a trial that took place in Florida is a disgrace to the legal profession. I’m beginning to wonder if the prosecutions failure to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter is more than inexcusable error. This might all have been a huge conspiracy to ensure an acquittal.

    Im appalled at the kinks in our Justice System where a black child is murdered in cold blood and nobody cares. And the killer goes free. It’s time we take a stance against this kind of injustice. It’s time to let our voices be heard

    JOP

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  4. This is great. The comments and everything. It’s important to hear all views, despite how enraging some of them may be. That being said, this is, without a doubt, a race issue. Things are NOT yet equal. Would Zimmerman have pursued a white girl wearing a hoodie for the same reasons he pursued Trayvon (note: I said ‘for the same reasons’ I don’t know what a man who can kill a child and smile for getting away with it would do in any other situation)? Who knows? I’m a white girl and nothing like this has ever happened to me. Ever. But hearing my friends share their experiences of being racially profiled is proof enough that this case is only a peek into the injustices still present today. If Zimmerman was a black man, it would still be racial profiling. No, you don’t have to be white to experience white privilege, and you don’t have to be any specific color to experience racial profiling; and, if you get called suspicious enough times by the people who are supposed to be keeping you safe, you either believe it or try to deal with it. I can’t imagine how that must feel. The problem is the guilt people feel for not having experienced it. It’s easier to say it wasn’t about race because that seems makes the guilt go away. It’s self-inflicted racial profiling: feeling guilty for what someone else with your same skin color did, feeling like you’re being grouped in and pegged as a racist or privileged. But guilt only perpetuates something inside of you, it’s not outside of your body following you home, so count your blessings. That BOY had a hoodie on, maybe because it was cold, or maybe because he didn’t want to see the suspicious looks he got on his way home, where he was going to eat the skittles he had. And he got stalked and shot by a MAN who was told to stop. THINK about that. He was a boy with a fucking snack on his way home and got murdered. And he didn’t do anything wrong. How can someone not see even one of the MANY injustices in that? It is about color. This is what happens when the results of oppression and discrimination get swept under the rug because there’s no quick or pretty fix. We have to all acknowledge the problems if we’re going to make a change. It’s up to all of us to stop saying, even jokingly (and I’m a comedian, jokes are my thing), racist things. We have to stand up for each other and protect each other. It’s not easy, neither is losing your child. And neither is being scared you’ll get stopped for wearing your hood up when it’s cold. And neither is speaking up and risking the loss of a job or a friend who says something ignorant. But nothing great comes easy. And I think (and I know I’m not alone here) living in a world that’s working towards true equality would be great. Imagine Trayvon the next time you hear or see an injustice and speak for him. God created all of us equally as brothers and sisters, we all lost a brother under God.

    Post as much as you can all over every social media medium. It’s a way to connect immediately with huge numbers of people. That’s what it’s for.

    *I would also like to commend you, Danielle, for SIGNING YOUR NAME to your words and opinions. ❤

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    • bodyimageprojectblog July 15, 2013 — 6:53 am

      Kate Thank You So Much for Your Post!! It was really great to read and You are so right we did lose a brother under God. You are also right in saying if you get called suspicious enough times you either deal or believe it. Very insightful post to the blog entry. Thank you so much!

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  5. I am a 33 year old white homosexual male, born and raised in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Growing up, I thought where I lived was just perfect. In school some kids looked like me and some didn’t and that didn’t matter. As we got older and adolescence began to set in the smaller groups began to form, as is to be expected, but it turned more into a game of ‘matching like things’ when it came it choosing friends. In the meantime, I was struggling fit in period… boys, girls, black or white. That’s when I learned the word hate. The boys hated the girls. This group hated that group. And all of them hated me. The boys were different than the girls. This group looked different than that group. And I was just plain different. Kids fear things that are different and that is why they conform. So much is learned at a young age and ingrained that is carried right from the schoolyard to adulthood. These childhood fears turned to hatred are easily passed down, generation to generation, sometimes simply by choice words used at the dinner table, to more blatant emotional abuse.
    After high school I chose to go to college in the city. It wasn’t until my first night on that north Philly campus did I realize what a closed-minded and bigoted area I came from. It may as well have been the Midwest. My first visit back home, about a month into school, I went bowling with some high school friends. In bathroom stall at the bowling alley were spray painted “KKK”s and swastikas. My goodness. Had I been blind for 18 years. Its a wonder I made it that long without hanging from a tree! I didn’t know I had been surrounded by so much HATE.
    I do believe hate is learned. In my home the golden rule was always taught. “Do unto others as you’d have done to you.” Now, that kept me going. While I was having my ribs kicked in by the swingset …”little faggot” or when being dragged around by my facemask the one year I played football… “fairy’s don’t play football” or even in college when drunk fraternity brothers pissed on me while I was asleep in my dorm… “QUEEEER!”
    I was raised to forgive and forget, though. Trust me, I’m all about karma, but I just hope these people learned from their mistakes.
    As it goes with the Martin/ Zimmerman case… I believe the biggest mistake was in the media. The media goes so many places it does not belong. Though I do believe the trial should have been national news I do not think it should have been 24/7 coverage throughout the duration, making a spectacle of this poor family’s tragedy. That goes for anything like that. Americans thrive on that stuff now as if its the ultimate reality tv. I mean we, as a nation have been totally desensitized. The video games our kids play, the horrible viral videos they can access on the internet, not to mention porn. Kids no longer need an imagination. Their minds are being warped with the click of a button. Combine that with the intolerance for people different than themselves, the inbred ignorance and the learned hatred and you have the formula for where we are today. I’m not really looking forward to where we go from here, and I don’t really know the a good solution. I know the golden rule just seems too simple.

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    • bodyimageprojectblog July 15, 2013 — 6:55 am

      Randy this is such an incredible response to the blog post. Thank you for your bravery and sharing of your personal story. I wish there was more love in this world rather than hate. There are so many people who will be impacted by reading your comment, thank you so much for this. Wishing you the best blessings : )

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  6. Great post. To answer your question about what I plan to do… I plan to do what I have been doing and then some. I am a mental health and substance abuse therapist and coach. I have worked within and in close relation to the criminal justice system for 12 years. I see daily the “system” we currently have does not work. I walk into rehabs and see non minorities. They aren’t given chances or help like our white clients. I go to jail and prison and find my black brothers and sisters in much larger proportions. I am working on creating a non profit for ex offenders and their families. I have a 3 year old son of my own. If I can save someone else’s child from being in the system or from being shot for looking GUILTY, my work will not be in vain. It is time for us to stand together and address these racial issues. Our lives depend on it.

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  7. “Perhaps the prosecution should have charged him with manslaughter.” This is where my bullshit detector went into the red. If I’m armed and I racially profile, follow and kill someone, I don’t expect to be slapped with a wet lettuce. All things being equal had Trayvon shot Zimmerman and told the same story he would not have been acquitted. You don’t need to play a race card when the deck is loaded.

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  8. enough already July 14, 2013 — 9:44 pm

    Your posting makes me sad. And kind of pissed off. George Zimmerman is biracial/hispanic, and is also a minority. How is this about black and white? And how is one person’s act the “inhumanity of an entire country”? Is it because people sat on a jury, heard all the facts and decided the actions didn’t fit the legal definition of the crimes he was charged with? Perhaps the prosecution should have charged him with manslaughter instead of second degree murder. Maybe they would have gotten a conviction then. Did you even consider these factors or is just more satisfying to make assumptions and paint everything with a “racism” brush rather than look at the facts? Your posting adds the the disturbing race baiting trend.

    Yes, someone is dead and it is a terrible event that occurred but what is even sadder is the continued “poor us” view by black people who decry EVERYTHING bad that happens as outright racism. NEWS FLASH: People are people, no matter what color and all have their own set of complicated motivations and prior life experiences to deal with. People like you act as if other races go around spending all their time finding ways to commit horrible racist acts against them. Its not all about you! You don’t deserve special treatment in life from everyone around you, forcing them to walk on egg shells lest you get offended and decide someone isn’t treating you the way you’d like because of your race! And since you don’t seem to be aware of this- guess what? People of all races, yes, even white people, treat each other like shit and murder each other. They make judgements about how the other person looks, acts or talks and withhold job offers or friendships or make arrests or take other actions because of their assumptions. Why do you feel black people should be immune from this all too HUMAN trait? Your assumptions about the verdict being because you (incorrectly) thought Zimmerman was white, only prove that you are guilty of making these types of assumptions yourself. But its not racist or prejudiced if a black person makes the assumption? How is that acceptable? I guess because a black person died at the hand of a not black person, it was racially motivated, right? But if a black person murders a white person (statistically more likely btw) it’s not? What really needs to happen to move America to a post-racial society is the cessation of a knee jerk reaction that calls every unfavorable event that occurs to a member of a minority (not just blacks) an act of racism. Allow open dialogues and understand that people are people and not everyone is out to get someone because of their racial makeup. Stop with the dehumanizing, victim mentality already. And also black people need to stop acting like they are the only minority group that is affected by racism. Native Americans have received far harsher treatment and to this day, many still live in a segregated environment.

    There are so many other things wrong with your posting but I’m not going to spend any more time on this. I will close with this; you saying “America needs to sort it all out” is disturbing. You, as an American bear just as much responsibility as any other American in making things better. Stop playing the race card at the drop of a hat and maybe other people will listen earnestly instead of just putting up with your rants so they don’t get labeled as racist for disagreeing.

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    • bodyimageprojectblog July 14, 2013 — 10:14 pm

      There is a post you should read in my blog called A Sime Dinner Conversation. The post was not intended to be a victim post at all. It was intended to get people off social media and make a change in their own communities. Sorry you saw it as such and thank you for you opinions and visiting the body image project blog. Wishing you the best

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    • Wow you are so misguided that a simple “fuck you” wouldn’t even begin to cover how entirely backwards and terrible you are as a person. You sound like a super privileged white man, and I bet that you will deny that in your follow up post where you will attempt to tell me off.

      Don’t worry,I’ill break this down nice and slow for you so don’t panic. For most people, not enforcing racial oppression isn’t too difficult but I can see you are struggling so I’ll hold your hand and walk you through it. First lesson: You don’t have to be white to have white privilege. Woah! Zimmerman is incredibly light skinned- regardless of his ethnicity, he appears to be white. In the workings of race it is about individual coloring, not about ancestry. Because see white men can walk through stores without being followed, are always served food, and do really well in getting away with crimes in the courtroom. Its actually pretty basic knowledge unless you are a white dude with no sense of self and how the world works. And since Zimmerman is assumed to be a white man by the world, it would make sense that this is obviously a fucking white and black issue. Christ.

      And how dare you come to a blog run by a person of color and tell her that she is making everything about race like her person experiences in life as a black girl in America are wrong or exaggerated. You know why lots of things seem to be about race? Because most things ARE about race. Clearly you don’t experience daily discrimination or you would know that. Every bit of life in America is laced with tones of skin and worth, and if you listened to the words of people who live with this first hand instead of jumping at every chance to say the phrase “race card”, you might know that too. Also, a word of advice: don’t put the word racism in quotation marks and then go on to say Native Americans have it worse. Either you have a working knowledge of what oppression is or you don’t, so pick which side you are going with. Otherwise you look like an ignorant jackass.

      But honestly and in all seriousness, I’d love to see the sources you have for the “black people more likely to kill white people” statement. Where’d you hear that- was it Fox News, The Onion, or your grandpappys mouth?

      Its amazing how snotty ass white people really think they are entitled to deciding what is and is not offensive to people of color. Getting mad because you arent in charge of deciding when and where people of color feel discriminated against? Sounds like a personal problem, bro.

      So feel free to come back with proof of your “facts”! Ive got some facts for you too, just so we are even on the truth bomb front. You are an oppressive dick and are desperate need of reality and enlightenment. Now take your shady ass back to your moms house and tell her how upset you are because no one gives one shit about your racist feelings. 💩

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    • The whole “he’s Hispanic” thing is a straw man argument over the whole racial profiling and biases issue. Sure, minorities will profile other minorities, but that doesn’t make it right. I doubt if George Zimmerman would’ve batted an eye if he saw a white kid in a hoodie buying Skittles and iced tea before 9pm. Let’s be real. What made Trayvon suspicious and ultimately killed him was being black in that place and in that time.

      And doesn’t it make it worse that black people get profiled not just by Caucasians (as demonstrated by the police) but also by other minorities?

      The case demonstrates that being Caucasian is the gold standard of belonging. If you are anything else, there will always be questions of whether you truly belong.

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      • Stop making assumptions.... July 17, 2013 — 3:43 pm

        If we’re gonna be real, then how about we stop making assumptions? There are plenty of adults who “profile” teenagers no matter the color of their skin… Many adults inherently think that ANY teenagers wearing a hoodie/baggy clothing are up to no good… How do we know that TM wouldn’t have been followed by GZ if he was white, and all other variables were constant? If you listen to the UNABRIDGED (not the version edited by NBC) call that GZ made to dispatch, it is CLEAR that he did not initially know whether the person he was suspicious of was Black, White, or some shade in between. Consider this: If TM was wearing kakhis and a collared shirt and carrying an umbrella in the rain, would GZ have become suspicious? Obviously I am not blaming TM for what happened, just trying to point out that race might not have been the factor that motivated GZ to follow the young man….

        It’s really sad that so many people are making assumptions about the facts as if they just KNOW what happened the day TM was killed. So many people are saying “if Trayvon Martin was white, this never would have happened…” Only one person knows whether that is in fact the truth, and we will likely never know that person’s true opinion…

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  9. This is powerful Danielle thank you so much for sharing and thank you fro sharing that timely scripture. We must acknowledge that there is a problem and fix it….

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  10. Woah that was really powerful to read. You are right, people around the world are only shown one side of the coin. I can almost relate to the 12th July celebrations over here. What is shown to the world is people burning flags and getting trampled on by police etc, but what you didn’t see – was the people like me and my family having a lovely BBQ with our son and celebrating having the day off work and watching the parades peacefully.

    I personally believed (as naïve as it may be) that yes America was in fact all together so it was horrible to read all about this and see that stuff like this still happens because of a skin colour. It baffles and hurts me that I’m bringing my child into a world like this. The greatest gift I can give him is the experience to love everyone regardless of sexual preference, skin colour and religion.

    It’s all about the future and moving forward. It’s so unfair that it’s the small minority that keep holding us all back.

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