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Column: Racism Is Still Present

Heights Columnist

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

You know those times in life when you realize just how cruel and thoughtless human beings really are? To the point where you’re ashamed to be a member of the species? If not, then take ten minutes today to read about the murder Trayvon Martin, and I promise you will.

There are so many wicked and disgusting things about what happened in Florida the other day that it’s hard to know where to start:

The fact that the police sent a narcotics–rather than a homicide–agent to investigate the matter.

The fact that Trayvon was a totally unarmed and model 17-year-old kid.

The fact that the killer, George Zimmerman, isn’t rotting away in prison right now.

The fact that Trayvon is now dead because he was black.

Indeed, that he was black is the only reason why Trayvon is now dead.

Michael Skolnik, the editor-in-chief of GlobalGrind.com, drove this point home brilliantly in a column titled, “White People, You Will Never Look Suspicious Like Trayvon Martin.” The title is an allusion to the fact that during his phone conversation with the police, Zimmerman mentioned that he had seen someone who “looked suspicious” walking around the neighborhood.

Skolnik himself is white, and in his column he wrote that, “I will never look suspicious to you, even if I have a black hoodie, a pair of jeans and white sneakers on. In fact, that’s what I wore yesterday. I still will never look suspicious.” Why is that? The obvious answer comes from comedian Paul Mooney, who has said that white is “the complexion for the protection.”

If you doubt the veracity of that statement, then you simply have no idea what you’re talking about.

Let’s not mince words. If you’re white and you’ve grown up in America, you have been privileged in ways that you will probably never be able to fully wrap your head around.

As a white person, the color of your skin will never set off a red flag in the mind of an employer, a business owner, a store manager, or a neighborhood watchman that you might be up to no good. You will never have to deal with people questioning your intelligence or your motives because of your whiteness. Your fellow classmates will never make the assumption that you’re probably only here on an athletic scholarship just because you’re white.

The most irresponsible thing would be to pretend that these kinds of things don’t happen, or that they happen so infrequently as to be irrelevant.

Racism is not a thing of the past, and there is an abundance of scientific evidence that shows even good, honest people who openly condemn racism still unconsciously harbor some kind of racial bias. Deep within each of us, there lurks a hideous monster whom we are afraid to confront. But we must.

Some people have pointed out that Zimmerman himself is Latino, as though that negates the possibility that his actions were motivated by some kind of racial prejudice. But, as Skolnik said, “If he’s Latino, if he’s white, if he’s black, if he’s Asian, it does not matter. The fact that we look at young black men as suspicious is wrong.”

For God’s sake, Trayvon was carrying a bag of skittles and an iced tea when Zimmerman murdered him. Think about that the next time you’ve got a candy bar and a soda in your pocket.

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