One White Woman Looking At Another White Woman

trayvon

I have been angry for days. For those of you who follow me on Twitter or know me personally, this comes as no surprise. But this has not been my usual anger––the daily anger that is generally bubbling under the surface as a result of reading the news, reading comments by trolls, witnessing and experiencing microaggressions, battling internet racists, etc.––but a tight wire in my heart that has been clanging since the verdict was read, since 5 white and 1 Hispanic woman in Florida found George Zimmerman not guilty after he stalked and murdered a boy of seventeen.

I watched every second of the trial. I seethed at Don West. I cringed at the 911 tapes. I cheered for Rachel Jeantel. And the whole time I felt my hope struggling with my pessimism, heard myself say “These bastards will probably let him walk,” while being conscious that I was saying this in an effort not to get my hopes too high. But they were high. Even in the face of grossly unjust convictions like Marissa Alexander’s, I thought, “There’s just no way. They can’t. Not this time.”

But they did. They let him walk, and are even giving him the gun back, the one he used to take the life of an innocent black boy. A bloody souvenir.

In the days since, I have engaged in vicious debates, some with people I formerly respected. One in particular stands out in my mind: a white man told me that we shouldn’t be angry at the jury or vilify them: we should be angry at the laws that “forced their hand” to acquit. Out of all the debates I’ve had, this is the one that irks me the most.

Yes, the laws need to be changed. Stand Your Ground needs to be smashed. But you know what else needs to be smashed? The racist ideologies that cling to the hearts of white Americans, proven by the fact that Don West could enter a trial with the strategy of “Scare the white ladies with tales of a big bad black thug” and succeed; proven by the fact that Trayvon Martin, in death, was on trial for his own murder; proven by the fact that white Zimmerman defenders have said over and over that Trayvon should have identified himself (Freedom Papers?); proven by the fact that despite our teaching our children to run away from suspicious adults who might mean them harm, Trayvon Martin was somehow wrong wrong wrong for trying to protect his own life.

During the trial, there was speculation that the jury would convict because all of them were mothers. Although white, it was said, these women have children of their own and would see through Zimmerman’s elaborate circus of lies in the pursuit of justice for a child. Those speculations were wrong. I have quoted a poem by Ai many times in my ongoing fight for equality, and I’ll do so again here:

 

“what can I say, except that I’ve heard

the poor have no children, just small people”

 

This is how these jurors—and, indeed, much of White America—see black Americans. How could this jury of 6 non-black women see Trayvon Martin as a child, when to their eyes he was a man? And not just a man: a black man. A dangerous man. A threat. A pestilence. A thug.

Last night I listened to Juror B37 during her CNN interview, her face in shadow, while she said “them” and “they” and “sorry” and “Georgie.” I listened to her implications of Rachel Jeantel’s inferiority and her disgraceful deference for George Zimmerman. And I wanted to scream. Cry. Break things. I wanted to burn the world down. She essentially admitted that he committed manslaughter, but that “his heart was in the right place.” In these words I heard her complicity with the murder of black children in Florida and everywhere. However terrible Zimmerman’s actions, his heart was in the right place. Why? Because a black child is dead. And how could that be wrong?

This is what we’re up against. By we I mean everyone who believes that justice was not carried out; who believes that black children matter; who believes black lives matter; who believes as long as people like Juror B37 exist, our work is not done.

There are many problems with this case, with Florida, with the United States, with this world that puts blackness on par with ugliness, danger, and ignorance. But of those problems, which one glares at me, twanging the wire in my heart? Whiteness. Whiteness and its lack of empathy, its refusal to take responsibility, its ego. Its inability to see a black boy as a black boy, to equate that black boy and his marijuana with your own white son and the pot you know is in his backpack. Whiteness and its refusal to sit down, shut up, listen, help. Whiteness and its blindness; its stuffy, raging defenses and finger-pointing. Whiteness and those—like B37—who wield it as a shield, then, behind that shield, attempt to write books and profit off a death that you blocked justice for.

We shouldn’t be angry at the jury? I am angry. I am one white woman looking at another white woman, who—along with her peers—saw a black child’s death laid out before her and chose to turn her back. I am not turning my back. Not on Trayvon. Not on Michael Griffith. Not on Marissa Alexander. Not on Jordan Davis. Not on Emmett Till. I empathize. I organize. I’m angry.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

60 thoughts on “One White Woman Looking At Another White Woman

  1. I echo your sentiments and could not agree more. Very well said.

  2. profound, poetic, and pissed…

  3. Beautifully written. I stand by you as we stand up for justice.

  4. Thank you so much! Your words touched my heart and gave me chill bumps! God bless you! In God’s eyes WE are ONE! I stand with you my sister!

  5. Ro Edwards says:

    Wow, this left me speechless and teary eyed…. Eloquently written and profound. It s/b plastered on the from of every newpaper, blog and status…. Very much needed.

  6. schnitzie says:

    Phuque YES. White woman here…could not agree more. White people valuing their egos over the life of an innocent boy. INFURIATING! I want to slap every person who cannot comprehend why Trayvon was afraid and how Zimmerman racially profiled him before he murdered him. YThey are white supremecists, even if they are not white (or “all” white). And that fat phuque is getting his gun back, the gun with the body of the boy he was supposed to protect on it. Goddammit.

  7. Thank you for being unapologetically you!

  8. oliviaacole says:

    Thank you all for your comments! Continue to spread your love and to fight white supremacist ideologies. Together we cannot lose.

  9. Your sentiments were as if you were writing for me what is in my heart. I have been so angry but mostly sad. Sad that we are still here. Sad that like you I had dared to believe that the ending might be different this time. Sad that when the school year starts I will have classrooms full of children who will be looking to me to explain the inexplicable. Sad that even people I love just don’t get what seems to me to be obvious. But I do want to thank you for giving me the sense that there are other white people who get it too.

  10. Bless you, Olivia!!!! I couldn’t agree with you more! I wrote my own perspective Sunday on my blog. Come check it out! http://www.couragefactor.com

    How could any mom of any race be ok with this? Someone needs to be responsible for his life! :-(

  11. Felicia says:

    Thank you, Olivia. You post gives me hope. I know that many agree with you and feel as you do, but it’s so discouraging to hear and see some of the comments I’ve heard and seen since Trayvon’s murder. Well said and much appreciated.

    • oliviaacole says:

      It is discouraging, Felicia. But the beast is loudest when it’s dying. And also….pay as little attention to internet trolls as possible. Many of them are paid by corporations who thrive on dissent and disunity. Those small ugly voices are not the whole.

  12. Wow… YOU, my husband – (who is white) – yes, I’m a black woman – and what we do as partners and authors is write about a world of old and new, where white hero males, see the injustice surrounding friends, (black) love interests ( black) FIGHT for what is right. I – an author – have always known, that there are women like YOU out there. Who sees human beings with serious problems within them yes – it is never denied, but that is continuously compounded by continuous racism – by laws that continue to say, -YOU people are subhumans and in fact, dogs have greater value than you to us.

    People continue to toss in the pot as their argument that black upon black crime is larger in percentage than any white on black crime – so what’s the big deal? While to a certain extent this might be true – NO ONE is willing to look towards the SEEDS that grew this crop now in harvest of desperate callousness that has made an ill-community of black despaired, hopeless, leaderless PEOPLE feel that they have nothing… but themselves, as an individual who must live this desperate life to the fullest and NOT care, empathize or aid his neighbor because as far as HE or SHE can see…………. there is no hope anyway.

    So they have learned to dull, deaden and harden their hearts and thus go for what makes their SHORT lives worth living to them. Selfish, ugly, cold, angry lacking compassion is how they’ve learned…. LEARNED… to live…. because it is THAT which has been shown them.

    Few, not enough…sees the roots of this day we now live in. I am sad, tearful, hurt and in despair – because I SEE THEM trapped in mind, in spirit, of heart. The COLD they were forced to be and live by… those seeds – have grown in our day to make black on black crime and killing.

    What started it, caused it, planted it – still stands as well – continuing to plant those seeds to show them… ie; Zimmerman vs. Martin – they are RIGHT to be cold and have no HOPE – there is a target on their backs – and it is okay to be killed, by anyone. Their lives, bodies, blood, existence holds and has NO value other than to be the slaves they once were.

    But that’s another subject – the loophole in the 13th amendment that is being worked to great advantage in the early 1900’s and most certainly now.

    “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, —>>> except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”<<<— See the loophold? See WHY blacks are convicted at an unprecidented rate? Where whites might see fines, blacks see many years of prison time.

    How can a people where there is a large number TRAPPED with no immediate sight of the light at the end of the tunnel, see HOPE where there is a constant stomping on any seedling daring to sprout and quickly tread upon and ground out… be better than some of them are?

    Sorry for the long comment… but knowing this, makes my heart hurt. Some – have found the way out… a kind of freedom, but we look back and weep – or SHOULD BE weeping, to see still too many, that do not have the advantage to FREE themselves.

    Bless you Olivia – I treasure my white brother and sisters like you – I treasure you, and feel glad in my heart to have crossed paths with you.

    Mercedes Keyes
    http://amberswann.com
    https://www.facebook.com/MerKeyes

    • oliviaacole says:

      Mercedes, thank you for your beautiful comment. Yes, we should be weeping. Everyone. It kills my heart to know that some see the loss of a black life as a relief: who sees black on black violence as a cause and not a symptom of a system that is sick with its own hate and degeneracy. A change is going to come. I, for one, will make sure of it.

      • mercedesk says:

        Thank you – I subscribed to your blog, but for some reason never recieved notification of a reply. My husband and I are still discussing this now. I would like to know, WHY is there a “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida in the first place? After all, “Self-Defense” laws are better suited are they not.

        In fact, had there not been such a law, but instead, “Self-Defense” -PERHAPS- the outcome of the trial would have been totally different. Thus, Martin, standing – fighting to defend himself, and LOST.

        Making Zimmerman guilt of MURDER and for certain, first degree due to stalking Martin.

  13. You have done great things here. At first, I wanted this entire trial to be over with, I wanted to run away from a problem that just may have become my own because I am a young black man. I just didn’t want to believe that a man blatantly killed someone for being of different skin pigmentation but when I think about slave ships, Jim Crow laws, and the Montgomery bus boycott, the truth is becoming more and more apparently day by day. I appreciate you coming to the aid of our people who are essentially your people as well. This needs to become the a front page editorial for all major newspapers in America

  14. jrsirmans says:

    People like you are coming to dominance in this world. It is a hopeful sign. Perhaps, history won’t repeat itself with tragedy but triumph. Truthfully, both are surely in store.
    Either way, your resounding clarity and determination shine defiantly against an ignorant horde of basal emotions of which, there is no limit.

  15. Suzan Eaton says:

    To my mind this is how the justice system work (when neither party is rich or famous):

    white guy accidentally kills white guy — found guilty of manslaughter
    black guy accidentally kills black guy — found guilty of manslaughter
    black guy accidentally kills white guy — found guilty of murder
    white guy accidentally kills black guy — acquitted

  16. If You Had Not Reminded Me That You Are White, I would have sworn your sentiments were coming from a Sister. So I am put in check for my own jaundiced ear. I heard/felt the heart of a woman/mother/considerate PERSON. So many people can be so philosophically apologetic that it is just plain sickening. I rejoice at my correction and I am so very grateful to have experienced your hearts expression. No smoothing it over or putting glossy language to appease; you said it and that settled it. Loved It! Dig-It?

    torthel

  17. carlraye67 says:

    Thank you so much. My family faced the same scenario 51 years ago in Alabama. My story at http://www.carlrayspeaks.com

  18. moorearian says:

    This was so refreshing and eye opening, it inspired this post…http://enlivenmagazine.com/2013/07/americas-health-check-the-trayvon-martin-verdict/

  19. ICE CREAM

    It takes 2 hours, by bus, to get to the store.
    Another GD bill collector knocks at your door
    The rent is too high, you don’t have enough
    Landlord replies: “yeah, we all have it rough!”
    Hustlers implore, “Can you spare a dime?”
    Eyes front, keep walking, you don’t have the time.
    Punch in for the temp job “lucky you” has today,
    Cleaning the offices where rich people play.
    Shine, polish, sweep and take out the trash.
    Empty it carefully, one time there was cash.
    Get home, PTA bath, maybe time for a nap?
    Then go clean the school where they teach your kids crap.
    The kids have to come with you, that’s understood;
    Be quiet, don’t get caught, you might find them some food.
    Working hard was the answer to getting ahead.
    Yeah right, you’d be happy with a loaf of stale bread.
    Catch the early bus home and see the sunrise,

    Another day, no more dollars, that’s no real surprise.
    Open the door; no lights, water, or heat,
    Pay up, this is it, or you’re out on the street.
    Dig through your stuff to find something to pawn.
    Your treasure is greeted with an uncaring yawn.
    The color that matters is green and you’re brown,
    Keep to yourself on “that side of town”.
    One thing is nice with utilities all gone…
    No pictures, no sound ‘til TV comes back on.
    No light, no sound, it’s really a dream
    At least you’re not on the news where “they” can hear when you scream.

    ~Arianna Norris-Landry
    Washington Park Freedom School Summer 2013

  20. I’m new to your blog and saw this posts on my friends FB page. Olivia, so well said! Thank you for standing up!

  21. Deuce Danu says:

    Thank you for your words. Expressions like this make me so hopeful …

  22. srtorris says:

    Reblogged this on airoftorris and commented:
    Because I have no words and these words are eloquent.

  23. srtorris says:

    You are angry? Then you are my Sister. Thank you so much for your words.

  24. sheilamonaco says:

    Thank you for writing this. As a Black woman I can not even begin to express how violated by my own country I feel. I know I speak for many Black people when I say we are tired, no exhausted, by how this country is relentless in dehumanizing our experience. The thing that hurts the most is listening to people use this legal verdict to rationalize their lack of empathy, or worse yet, misplaced empathy. If viewed exclusively through the prism of the letter of the law, I can ALMOST understand this acquittal. What I don’t understand, and what breaks my heart, is how so many people think it is justified because they can relate to GZ instead of see their own child in TM. Racism isn’t about burning crosses, separate water fountains, white hoods, and who did or didn’t say the N-word anymore. It, and any -ism, is about the behavior, bias and lack of accountability that results from one’s inability to see the world through another’s eyes, put one’s self in another’s shoes, and take responsibility from the privilege that results. GZ created this mess and was responsible for it. But the legal system and too much of the country is held TM accountable. Where is the justice in that? Where is our justice?

  25. kaylaanic0le says:

    we ALL need JESUS!! i LOVE YOUR BLOG !!

  26. Alvin Fields says:

    Olivia…you are the Great White Hope for Our Race..Our young black men and our spirits…thank you a million times ..and God Bless!~

  27. kaylaanic0le says:

    Reblogged this on my st0ry . and commented:
    Love .

  28. Thank you so much for this.

  29. arkayevans says:

    I truly thank you for this excellent missive. In the media, blacks are continually characterized as subhuman, and many folks – blacks included – have bought and continue to buy that sack of hype. Then there are those of us who believed when we were told that if we didn’t perpetuate stereotypes, they would cease to exist. Clearly this is BS. If actions speak louder than words, I guess the people have spoken. It’s time for us all to take this to heart and really address the racist in the mirror, because as always, real change begins at home – and racism isn’t a black or white thing, it’s a human condition. Ignorance doesn’t discriminate, but power is preserved for the few.

    Such power and access to resources can make all the difference, and there’s a lot of money lining the filthy underbelly of a lie called equal opportunity. We are far from EQ in a social environment based and hell bent on the racial profiling that put a minor on trial even after his horrific and untimely death. It’s unreal that so many find it impossible to see Trayvon as a frightened teenager who was followed, pursued and murdered by a persistent, creepy stalker. Zimmerman, a middle aged man followed, stalked and murdered a teenager while he was walking home. Period. It is beyond sickening that the color of Trayvon’s skin was all the defense needed to successfully characterize the teen as subhuman, enough to justify Zimmerman’s actions, and all that was needed to turn Zimmerman into ‘just another guy standing his ground’ in the eyes of the jury. If Trayvon looked like Bieber, Hollywood and Wall street would’ve damn near shut down. If Zimmerman looked like Usher, the incident would have likely never made the news. ENOUGH already.

  30. Simply… WOW! God Bless you my sister. POWERFUL… “Im Angry”.

  31. Another white woman who had too much faith in the jury system, which failed Trayvon Martin. The sad feelings that came over me after the trial put me into a period of mourning which I have had trouble getting out of. Not sure if I ever will.

  32. darneldegand says:

    As many other people have said already in this comments section, Thank you. This post was really appreciated.

  33. I too am one angry white woman!

  34. Kent Hadnot says:

    This needs to be in all the major papers editorial sections, USA Today, New York Times, Chicago Sun Times, etc. Well written, honest and it speaks volumes about the current state of our country. Well Done Olivia!!!

  35. imniki66 says:

    OMG…… I read your post and it brought me to tears. I am black, and grew up in a predominately white neighborhood. And it was awful for me and my brother. We were attacked, spat on, called the “n” word. My brother was charged with destruction of property when we were visiting my grandmother because a retired white cop said she saw a “suspicious person” in her neighborhood. He was playing with an abandoned tire at the time. I grew up not trusting cops or white people. In truth there is still a part that is untrusting, not as much as then, but still some. I tried recently to explain that to a former white classmate after she in a round about way defended the verdict. I have always wanted to hear from ANY of them, exactly what you posted. That they were angry about how I was treated and maybe too
    scared to help. You filled a place in me tonight that i waited 40 years to be filled……Thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul.

  36. I’ve never heard, let alone a WHITE WOMAN speak this way. You’ve awed me. I thank you for seeing through fear and realizing that Trayvon Martin was really just a boy…a kid. So many people felt sorry for the children in Sandy Hook, but yet felt Trayvon somehow deserved his own death. I see Trayvon and the children of Sandy Hook the same way. You are completely the opposite of how you described white people. I definitely saw empathy in you.

  37. Oliviacole… I am so moved, that i hold back tears here at work. Thank you for saying what so many are feeling.

  38. As the tears flow and the anger wells once again, I want to say, thank you! That’s it.

  39. oliviaacole says:

    I want to thank all of you for your comments. I can’t thank you individually, but I want to say that your stories, your personal perspectives, your pain and your hope, are felt deeply from where I sit. My heart reaches out to you. I will never stop fighting. That is my solemn pledge.

  40. Thanks for the truth in more ways than I can say.

  41. Linda Lam says:

    This article is useful. Thank you for sharing this article.

Drop some knowledge

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: