I think I'm more afraid of Robert Zimmerman Jr., than I would be if I encountered his brother George. For the past few days, the brother of the man that killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has been tweeting incessantly, comparing his brother's victim to two teens in Georgia who were arrested after killing a woman's baby during a botched robbery.
His frighteningly short-sighted rant reminds me there are still people who believe that they have a right to better treatment than others, solely based on the color of their skin or heritage.
Saturday morning, Robert sent an image to the NAACP and the NRA, among others, with two images side by side. One is of De'Marquise Elkins, 17, one of two teenagers accused of fatally shooting a 13-month-old baby. The other is of Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida. Both are holding up their middle fingers. The words on Zimmerman's Photoshop job read "a picture is worth a thousand words … any questions?"
Let's set aside the obvious idiocy in comparing a victim to a killer and really take a look at what Zimmerman was trying to do. A subsequent tweet said this: "Lib media shld ask if what these2 black teens did 2 a woman&baby is the reason ppl think blacks mightB risky." To clarify that, he seemes to be saying that the liberal media should ask if what these two teens [are accused of] doing to Sherry West and her son, is it reasonable for people to think that all black people are dangerous?
The answer, clearly, is no. But what truly gives me the chills, is that this entire argument is based on the premise that because blacks look different than others, they should be considered dangerous at all times. This is not casual segregation based on ignorance, or even an effort to oppose interracial marriage. It's a flat out discriminatory point of view that is justified by tapping into a primal fear that was considered the norm at a time when people considered it reasonable to make sweeping assumptions about entire races of people.
Right here in D.C., a local ANC commissioner demonstrated how those fears can affect day to day life, even casually. Following a weekend stabbing in Adams Morgan, Ted Guthrie who represents ANC 1C03, remarking on a police search that involved a search for four black men, wrote on a neighborhood listserv "Well... that is my block... fortunately, I'm not black…."
Guthrie has since apologized, saying it was a joke, but the point is understood. Many people would rather just thank God they're not black rather than face the reality that taints our society's ability to look at one another equally.
In Zimmerman’s case, he goes on to tweet that he believes that the media is somehow suppressing photos of Martin which make it clear he was a threat. Seems as if Zimmerman has convinced himself that Martin's life was collateral damage in an unavoidable race war playing out in his mind.
"I'm 100% certain if TM succeeded in disarming GZ, he would've killed him. Then we would have another 17yr old murderer &I'd have a dead bro," Zimmerman tweeted Monday afternoon. All this based on a few Facebook photos.
Here we have a man, publicly stating that he believes that fear based on ugly prejudices should be considered a good enough reason in the court of public opinion to take a young black man's life. Let's not forget that the record states that George Zimmerman was the one following Martin before that encounter, who was unarmed. Robert Zimmerman's mind is still in lynch mob-era reasoning, and he doesn't see the problem. Instead, he's blamed someone else for a negative portrayal of his brother.
I wasn't there on that fateful night in Sanford. But I can tell you that as a black man, often times, beyond the weapon that could be the tool that takes your life, the mentality that your life is worth less than another's is the scariest prospect of all.
But what would I know? I'm just a guy with two middle fingers.