Bill O’Reilly has seen fit to note that actor Jamie Foxx was wearing a Trayvon Martin T-shirt at Sunday night’s BET Awards. No big deal, right? In the universe of O’Reilly, it is. He called the fashion choice “racism on display.”
Let him explain this one. Here’s the transcript:
O’REILLY: Thanks for staying with us. I’m Bill O’Reilly. In the “Unresolved Problems” segment tonight, racism on display. Actor Jamie Foxx wore a Trayvon Martin T-shirt at the Black Entertainment Awards a couple of days ago.
Of course, Mr. Foxx has no idea what happened on the night Mr. Martin was killed in Florida. Nevertheless, he’s extending his support in a very public way.
Now, the key question is this, if a white actor had worn a George Zimmerman T-shirt, would that have been acceptable?
Apparently O’Reilly felt it wouldn’t have been. Commentator Monica Crowley appeared to agree.
CROWLEY: But if a white actor went out with a T-shirt, like you said, with Zimmerman’s face on it or a quote that says, “I believe George,” his or her career would be destroyed.
It would be destroyed on the spot because they would say that person is a racist. That person is siding with the white Hispanic defendant.
O’REILLY: But Jamie Foxx is not a racist.
CROWLEY: Jamie — that’s the perception. I totally agree with you. It’s a double standard. It’s unfair and it’s grotesque. But that’s where we are.
The reason why O’Reilly’s little game of “what if” doesn’t particularly work here is clear to anyone who’s been watching the Trayvon Martin trial. Or even to anyone who has the slightest familiarity with the case:
Trayvon Martin is dead.
George Zimmerman is alive.
Why would any white actor wear a memorial T-shirt commemorating George Zimmerman, who is alive?
Perhaps O’Reilly would benefit from this August 2003 Slate article on memorial T-shirts. In the ’90s, writes Jenn Shreve, these items “grew popular among urban minorities, especially teenagers.” They’re commonly worn by folks to remember “someone whose life has come to a premature and violent end.” That describes Trayvon Martin to a “T.”
A coda: O’Reilly in another segment of his program stated, “The American media is especially guilty of injecting race into the trial. We all know who’s doing that, and it’s disgraceful.”