A Racial Rorschach Test

"I see a white man oppressing a black man . . ."


I have no personal knowledge about the Trayvon Martin case. Everything I know is what I have read online. I am certain that much of what I have read about the case is wrong because it contradicts other stuff I have read. If you hear two mutually exclusive things then both of them cannot be true (but they can both be wrong.)

It is interesting and disturbing how quickly the Trayvon Martin case has become a racial Rorschach test. The undisputed facts are ambiguous. We know that a young man was killed. We know that another young man killed him. We know where and when it happened. We know a little bit about each man, including their age, height, weight and race. We know a little bit about the background of each man, but not a lot. We know what one man’s version of events was. We will never know what story the other man would give.

There is some physical evidence. Not all of it has been disclosed by the police. There are some witness statements. We have been told what some witnesses allegedly told the police but none of the witnesses has been publicly examined and cross-examined under oath.

In one version of events Trayvon Martin was a gang member and a thug and George Zimmerman a hero. In another version Zimmerman is a bigot and a murderer and Trayvon Martin an innocent and wholly blameless victim.

I don’t know the truth. If I was on a jury and had to render a verdict I would vote not-guilty, not because I think Zimmerman is innocent but because the case for his guilt has not been proven to me. There is a jury instruction that states if you can draw two or more reasonable conclusions from the evidence, and one of those
reasonable conclusions points to innocence and another to guilt, you must accept the one that points to innocence.

But much of what we hear about this case is simply speculative and is designed to shoehorn the case into a predetermined narrative. That narrative is racial and requires that Zimmerman assume the role of a white, racist oppressor and Trayvon the role of innocent victim.

Why is that narrative so important?

According to FBI statistics in 2009 there were 2,867 black people murdered in this country. Of those, 2,604 were killed by other blacks and only 209 were killed by whites. Those are facts.

But what do they prove?

Let’s assume that George Zimmerman is a racist and a cold-blooded killer. What does that prove? Does it prove anything about America or society in general? What lessons can the rest of us learn, what changes can we make?

If George Zimmerman was sent to prison, would that be justice? Justice for who? Will it make up for slavery, lynchings and Jim Crow? Will our nation suddenly be free of racial bigotry?

The sad fact is that no matter how this ends there will be many people who think a terrible injustice has been done.



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71 Responses to A Racial Rorschach Test

  1. crawdad says:

    There are people in this country who would have nothing to do if racism was ever eliminated.

  2. DeniseVB says:

    We need more Bill Cosbys and less Sharptons and Jacksons.

    “The white man didn’t put you in jail, robbing the 7-11 did” ~Bill Cosby

    • myiq2xu says:

      It’s amazing how many people are absolutely sure exactly how everything took place. Especially the ones who ignore any inconvenient evidence that doesn’t fit their chosen scenario.

    • Pips says:

      Only read far enough to be confirmed in my (wise!) decision to skip reading TL.

    • elliesmom2 says:

      I was surprised by the comments at TalkLeft. I thought that it was a site for defense lawyers. They seem very eager to convict based on imaginary evidence. I wonder if their responses would be different if one of them was defending Zimmerman.

    • DandyTiger says:

      Interesting discussion.

    • votermom says:

      What I get from the TL comments is that Zimmerman is guilty because:
      – he had a gun and the only time you can use a gun in self-defense is when you are so getting beaten up you don’t even have time to draw your gun
      – he had a gun and Martin saw the gun and therefore was in fear of his life and therefore was the one acting in self-defense

      OR maybe Zimmerman was not guilty but sure as hell the Police Dept bungled the job (either by incompetence or because of racism) because
      – they didn’t confiscate Zimmerman’s gun (except they did)
      – oops they did confiscate Zimmerman’s gun but didn’t arrest him or drug test him

      • myiq2xu says:

        When Jeralyn is the reasonable one you know the place has gone off the rails.

      • WMCB says:

        I am seeing a lot of assumption (not necessarily on TalkLeft) that the mere fact that Z was carrying a gun makes him automatically a crazed vigilante looking to shoot someone.

        Which is ridiculous. It’s a clear blanket stereotypical assumption about “the sort of people” who own guns.

  3. DeniseVB says:

    Transcript (and audio) of Bill Cosby’s Pound Cake Speech ….

    http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/billcosbypoundcakespeech.htm

    • myiq2xu says:

      I’m not prepared to declare that Trayvon was a bad kid.

      When I was his age I smoked pot, drank, skipped school, wore my hair long and I acted and dressed like my peers.

      I don’t buy Geraldo’s “Hoodie” argument but it is a fact that within the black community there is a certain group that glorifies violence and criminality.

      17-24 is a dangerous age for boys of all colors.

      • WMCB says:

        I agree, myiq. My son did the whole hoodie and sagging pants and smoking pot deal when he was young. He wasn’t a gang-banger, and he’d never hurt a soul. He was just young and stupid and looking to fit in.

        • myiq2xu says:

          The expression is “young and dumb and full of cum.”

          We thought we were ten feet tall and bullet proof. We knew very little but thought we knew it all. We were rebelling against everything.

          It’s amazing we survived.

        • elliesmom2 says:

          Young men, in general, believe in their own immortality until around age 32 or so. I was supervising a group of guys doing some electrical wiring repairs after a hurricane. They were standing on metal ladders in puddles and hadn’t turned off the juice. One of the guys yelled for them to wait while he went to the circuit box to flip the switch. I bet the group that he was the only one over 30. I cleaned up.

      • WMCB says:

        The “revelations” about T’s twitter account, school suspensions, misbehavior, etc have no real bearing on the case per se.

        The reason they are interesting has to do with the seeming deliberate attempt to paint the kid as a younger, more innocent, angelically pure icon in the beginning.

        The truth coming out now has not much at all to do with the shooting. But it does shed light on what appears to be an orchestrated attempt to manufacture racial outrage. It’s interesting in the context of that dynamic. And that dynamic is a whole separate issue, which has little to nothing to do with the case itself.

        • votermom says:

          Tinfoil Tuesday:
          What was that Donna Brazile said about “blood on the streets”?

          I suspect that the WH operatives were looking for a way to whip up some good old race frenzy and pounced on this case.
          Occupy is not as popular as they had hoped so they need a way to get the base primed and ready for “mass action.”

      • DeniseVB says:

        …..and girls. My daughter was caught stealing cd’s out of cars to buy her next stash. She was 15 at the time. At 19, spent the weekend at Rikers for a bar fight. Now 31, a mom and owns 2 businesses. I’m not going to judge anyone’s children 😀

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          I hitch-hiked to California from Kentucky when I was 16. Dumb ass move, but I’d already hitch-hiked to Texas 3 times by then. Yes, girls are stupid and fearless, too.

      • votermom says:

        On “bad” kids – a lot of kids (me included) go through the rebellion phase but I think physical, violent aggression is different from dressing to shock, smoking pot, or stealing.

        The kids who get violent are the ones at risk of becoming violent adults unless there is intervention of some sort.

  4. NoEmptySuits says:

    Another good piece, myiq. Keep them coming, please.

    Does anyone have any thoughts about the timing of this brouhaha? I mean, Trayvon was shot almost a month ago, so why did this story break now. Did the local cops/prosecutor publicly announcee that they were closing the investigation? I’m always curious about why things happen when they happen.

    • DeniseVB says:

      I heard Trayvon’s parents are on their way to Capitol Hill today ? If so, isn’t the timing interesting for the SCOTUS-Obamacare protests/supporters?

      • votermom says:

        I admit it – this admin really is transparent! This is probably the most pathetically transparent distraction ploy they have made yet.
        They must really be worried about SCOTUS’s mandate decision.

        • DeniseVB says:

          Isn’t it funny how fast they (any party) can move when it’s political ? Like the faux Fluke congressional hearing?

          BO is back in DC tonight, wonder if he’ll sneak them into the WH for a hug photo op ?

        • votermom says:

          OMG if he does a photo op with the grieving family I will literally barf.

        • Pips says:

          Speaking of photo-ops, I just watched some footage of the photo-ops at the Nuclear Summit in South Korea. There’s Obama in the front row, seemingly chewing gum, and then within a split second he puts/ switches on his big teethy grin. It’s kind of eerie just how insincere, how ‘put-on’ that smile is. Then he lifts his right hand … and waves. Whereupon everybody else, doing their best to imitate him, raise their right hand too and wave. That’s leadership you can believe in, lol. Looks hilarious.

  5. WMCB says:

    OT, but 11 suicide vests were found inside the Afghan Defense Ministry. Afghan national soldiers have been arrested.

    We need to get the fuck out of that country. It’s hopelessly embroiled in its own corrupt tribal problems that we are not going to shoot, bomb, or bribe a solution to. The govt that is supposedly our “ally” is a sham and completely infiltrated. Get OUT. Oh, and if we are smart, we will shore up our sadly neglected relationship with India while we’re at it.

  6. gram cracker says:

    It would be interesting to know if Treyvon was residing at his father’s girlfriend’s home in the Orlando area at the time of the most recent neighborhood burglaries or was he miles away in the north Miami area. What items were taken, were items taken from homes and/or parked cars, how was entry gained?

    How did Treyvon pay for his pot, tattoos, gold teeth? Did Trayvon have a paying job? Did his parents provide the money or was he stealing jewelry to pay for his bling?

    My Ohio home is located on a street used by students to walk to the local middle and high school campus. My 400′ side yard is used to access a cul-de-sac behind me. Some kids walking back and forth from night time school activities must routinely check to see if parked car doors are unlocked. I’ve had mobile phones, cd’s, prescription sunglasses and money stolen from my car when I forgot to lock my vehicles. My husband would confront kids we found using our backyard at night to smoke pot and drink beer. They would even carry in lawn chairs. Since he passed away I call the police because as a women I feel pretty vulnerable. Also over the past 30 years it seems that kids have gotten bolder and have an entitlement attitude.

    One report I read or saw on TV said Zimmerman’s suspicions were aroused because Trayvon was walking very slowly. He may have wondered if Trayvon was looking for robbery opportunities.

    • WMCB says:

      But…but….but….the narrative is that there is no possibility that Trayvon was doing anything at all to rouse suspicions as he wandered and cut through yards in the rain in the dark. NONE. It’s not possible. It is inconceivable that his behavior was in any way furtive or noteworthy. Nothing about his motions, his choice of paths, any avoidance of street lights, any hiding of the face, could have set off any “uh-oh” alarm bells for Zimmerman. Nope.

      And of course, once one has “established” that incontrovertible “fact”, then the only explanation left for Z’s suspicions is that he was a rabid racist just itching to shoot him a black kid.

      Please note again that I am NOT asserting that the shooting was legally justified. I’m only saying that the rush to paint Z as a crazed hate-filled vigilante racist “hunting” (I’ve seen that word used) a completely innocuous man doing nothing but openly strolling on the sidewalk is ridiculous.

  7. zaladonis says:

    Re: Trayvon’s suspensions, possible pot smoking and thievery, etc.

    I, too, was one of those kids. Smoked weed, wore my hair long, defied authority. What makes a kid “good” or “bad” can be debatable but the point, for me, of information like this is in determining state of mind. He was suspended from school for the third time, staying at his father’s fiance’s place rather than his own home, and for some reason wanted out of his father’s finance’s condo enough to walk through the rain 2 miles back and forth to a 7-11. 17 year old boys can be snarky to begin with; was Trayvon extra touchy that evening? Was his state of mind (did he not want to return to the condo, was he wet and tired?) one that would’ve made his behavior look suspicious to a neighborhood watch guy, was his state of mind hostile or combative and Zimmerman tailing him further irritated him, did Zimmerman seem to him like someone it’d be safe to take out some steam on? State of mind, of both young men, can help put context to the pieces of information and provide a clearer picture of the probable truth.

    • WMCB says:

      What some people really don’t want to admit is that it’s entirely possible that both parties reacted out of what they BOTH perceived to be reasonable fear and suspicion. And that in some situations, the “entirely blameless good guy and entirely evil bad guy” dichotomy is a useless construct.

      • myiq2xu says:

        If Zimmerman were unarmed and the police showed up as Trayvon was beating him, Trayvon would not be able to claim self defense because Zimmerman was following him.

        He would have been arrested for aggravated assault.

        • WMCB says:

          True. It’s going to hinge on who started the physical confrontation. Following, or exchanging words, is not physical confrontation.

      • zaladonis says:

        Exactly, WMCB.

        Neither man has to be hero or villain, just ordinary guys with their own life situations and mood skewing their view, and actions, a little this way or that.

        And I’m not an anti-gun nut but it is true that a firearm can drastically change a testosterone scuffle to a killing.

        • WMCB says:

          Yup. I agree that if one is carrying a gun while doing neighborhood watch, one should exercise even MORE than the usual amount of caution, not less. I don’t have any problem with people opining that Z may have been over-zealous in his duties, and gotten himself into a bad situation. He need not have a racist heart or ill-intent to do that – just being stupid would suffice.

          It’s just gobsmacking to see the concerted effort to portray Z as some racist conservative Neanderthal, when there is no evidence whatsoever that the man is either racist or conservative. I saw a commenter on TalkLeft claim (in reference to conservatives defending Z) “of course, because he is one of them.”

          Um, no. Zimmerman is a registered Democrat.

    • gram cracker says:

      Good questions. And “good” kids can do “bad” things… most of us have done some pretty dumb careless things. Trayvon was talking on his mobile phone with his girl friend and told her he was being followed. Why didn’t he call 911 and report that he was being followed?

      Why did he think someone was following him… to rob him, to hurt him or did he know that he was behaving suspiciously? Did he think he could handle the situation himself?

      Maybe his girlfriend could provide insight into what Trayvon’s state of mind was that night. We’ll probably never know his true state of mind at the time because his family and friends are understandably biased and want to defend him.

  8. foxyladi14 says:

    as usual Another good piece, myiq thanks. 🙂

  9. myiq2xu says:

    Meanwhile, Martin’s parents are blaming police for leaking information about the details about the fight he had with Zimmerman that portrayed the teen as the aggressor.

    Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, and family attorneys said Monday that it was part of an effort to demonize her son.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/03/27/police-zimmerman-story-is-consistent-with-evidence-in-trayvon-martin-shooting/#ixzz1qKpVrlb3

  10. driguana says:

    like I said earlier….we seem to have scaled to the top of the tower of babble….lots of words that make no sense…

  11. HELENK says:

    this time the police arrested and charged a man for shooting a guy who broke into his house. The 80 year old man had convictions years ago that were brought against him this time. It is getting crazy in this country

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-elderly-man-shoots-burglar-in-englewood-both-charged-20120326,0,3175723.story

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  14. myiq2xu says:

    Oops:

    http://freebeacon.com/registered-dem-killed-trayvon/

    His voter registration card lists him as “Hispanic” too.

  15. yttik says:

    This was a horrible tragedy that is being relentlessly exploited by politicians and the media.

    As a mom, I know I worried and told my kids not to walk around at night in hoodies. My son was horrendous, I mean he was an A student who never got into any trouble, but if I saw him walking down the middle of the road looking all tough, I might have shot him myself. Seriously, I’m not trying to make light of this tragedy, but at some point personal responsibility and parental responsibility has to kick in. Kids should be able to just be kids and not get killed over it, but on the other hand that’s not the world we live in. If you present yourself in a scary way, you just might scare somebody.

    I have no idea if this is what happened in the Trayvon case, I’m just tired of the media acting like there’s nothing threatening about young men in hoodies strutting around the neighborhood like Hollywood extras in a crime drama. People are afraid of young men of all races, and for good reason. They’re the ones committing the majority of crimes. How you present yourself really does matter and it plays a role in how people are going to respond to you. I hope nobody ever gets shot for the way they dress and present themselves, but lets stop pretending that it doesn’t matter.

  16. Oswald says:

    I just noticed something interesting about those statistics in the chart above.

    Men are more likely to kill other men. Women are more likely to kill men too.

    • yttik says:

      Yes, but statistically men are still more likely to kill their own selves. Gun suicides far outweigh homicides.

  17. HELENK says:

    there is a case near San Diego of a muslim woman getting beaten to death in her house and a note left saying go back to your country terrorist.
    CAIR is saying it is like the Martin case.
    All the facts are not in on that case either, but people are asking was it a hate crime or an honor killing? both are feasible explanations but no one really knows yet but opinions are flying all over the place.

  18. Oswald says:

    Some Miami kids decided to honor Tayvon’s memory by looting a Walgreens:

  19. Lulu says:

    http://www.kansascity.com/2012/03/24/3510819/martin-familys-lawyers-no-strangers.html “MIAMI — A dead black teenager in a small town. Charges of a cover-up. A national media spotlight. A public outcry. State and federal investigations follow.

    This isn’t just the story of Trayvon Martin’s death on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. It happened before, in 2006, when Martin Lee Anderson died after he was beaten at a Panhandle boot camp.

    In both cases, the same man has been behind the scenes and in front of the cameras: Ben Crump, a partner in the emerging powerhouse black-owned Tallahassee law firm of Parks & Crump.

  20. Rick says:

    I’m sorry to tell you this, Crawdad, but you’re using phony statistics.

    That FBI chart pretends “Latinos/Hispanics” are white. I’m sure you would have known that too.

    Your lack of honesty is appalling.

  21. gxm17 says:

    I abhor vigilante justice and approached this case with a clear bias against Zimmerman. It didn’t help that the years old mug shot they keep showing depicts Zimmerman as a large, scary criminal. But once I became familiar with the scant facts available, it was clear to me that they do not support a guilty verdict.

    Was the investigation mishandled? Probably. Maybe. Who knows. We won’t know until everything is released. And even then we may never know the truth. Did Trayvon “deserve” to be shot? Absolutely not. Tragically, there were two young men who completely misread each other. And one of them had a (legally carried) gun.

    That this case has devolved into a violent witch hunt is supremely depressing.

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  23. ttan says:

    You know they way I see some of you referring to martin’s behavior, how he was acting, how he dressed, how his behavior could have raised suspicions, what he did to raise suspicions is really no different than what is done to rape victims, the media tries to find photos of her looking slutty (the media even uses this sexist word), they try to smear her character, they try to blame her for the rape by calling he actions irresponsible. I mean you guys should know this is exactly what you are doing.

    And to think some of you are women, when you know the same thing is done to rape victims, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

    • myiq2xu says:

      I guess the whole Neighborhood Watch program is dedicated to smearing people as “suspicious.” If how he was acting isn’t relevant to whether he was acting suspiciously, what is?

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