This weekend, George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The jury had the option of convicting him with second-degree murder or with the lesser charge of manslaughter, and they chose neither. Killing Trayvon would have been wrong even if he had been the surly future criminal the right-wing media depicted. But he wasn’t a dangerous person. He was a seventeen year old boy fetching skittles from a corner store.
I’ve heard parents say that once their children were born, they couldn’t stand to watch the local news, where every dead or missing child reminded them of the fragility of their own child’s life. I’m not a parent, but I think I’m beginning to understand how they feel. My brother looks a lot like Trayvon.
I have five siblings who joined my family through international adoption. My (white) parents did make some small nods to my siblings’ heritages, but they never had “The Talk.” Most of my siblings are light skinned, and are assumed to be Asian or Latino. Although my siblings have all experienced personal and institutional racism, they are, generally, I’m sure in part because of their size (we’re a short family), not assumed to be dangerous. My brother William* is another story.