Healing Racism: Trayvon and the Broken System

We Americans are prone to allowing our view of reality to be fed to us by mainstream [corporate-owned] media. We are quickly entranced by the talking heads who tell us what is going well and what is going poorly in our world, with the emphasis on what is going poorly. Yet there is no honest effort to get to the real reasons why things are going so poorly. That would be educational. Our lame-stream media has no interest in educating us.

The case in point is the death of Trayvon Martin, the teenager killed with a gun by a vigilante posing as a ‘citizen patrol’ in a gated community in Florida. The event has triggered a firestorm of protests, as well it should.

We tend to think we have no responsibility for the George Zimmermans of the world – broken humans who feel their hatred is justified and grants them the right to all sorts of abominable behavior. We know that it’s crazy. But do we see how every time we allow ‘little’ racist remarks to go unchecked, whether from a friend or co-worker, a TV show or article, we contribute to horrific situations such as Trayvon must have faced in that Florida gated ‘community’.

George Zimmerman typifies many emotionally-wounded Americans who are off-kilter, over-influenced by Fox News, the NRA and even our government(s), which creates laws like ‘Stand Your Ground’ at the behest of the gun lobby and other extremists. I suspect that Mr. Zimmerman also has trouble with a black president, social services and evolution. The pattern is pretty common among hard-line fundamentalists, even as they name themselves Christians..

It’s worth noting that in spite of a past assault charge on a police officer, Mr. Zimmerman seems extra cozy with his local law enforcement officials. Without that coziness, he likely doesn’t commit this egregious crime. Their little hater’s club allowed his racism to be considered okay, maybe even cool. We know there was some level of tolerance for his actions, as he was not charged with a crime at the scene. [And as of this writing has not been charged yet.]

But how many of us find ourselves in similar, if not so obviously racist, situations at times? Most all of us. And how do we react to such comments and behaviors? Sadly, most of us have been too afraid of confrontation or too disinterested in civil society to take action. If this were not the case, racism would have been long since abandoned by even the most raging haters. We’ve not stood up to it in the past. Now that we’re awakening, it’s time for a change.

We do not need to be aggressive or hostile to racists – they have plenty of that already. Our methodology needs to be one of gentleness, of peace and of love. “Wow, George, it kind of surprises me to hear you say that. He seems like a fine/pretty average/typical kid to me.” or perhaps “You know George, except for an accident of birth you could be him and he could be you. Funny.” or again “George, remarks like that are unacceptable. We are all children under God’s light, and such talk is not at all Christian.” This last version is a little more challenging, but cast in the context of Christianity we can perhaps be a bit more firm.

No matter how peacefully we approach our ‘George,’ the possibility exists that they will react against you. It may be abusive, perhaps even violent. That potential outcome doesn’t relieve us of our personal responsibility to end racism. If the situation is too flammable, we may not be able to express ourselves fully. But most of all, we cannot let such situations continue due to our indifference. We owe it to each other as brothers and sisters, here together in Life on Earth to take a stand against racism.

As we know, racism and the hater mentality are not aimed solely toward those of African descent. Such vindictiveness can be hurled at other races and other creed-holders as well. Other minority communities have felt the unjustified wrath, the violence and the bullets. Muslims and the LGBT community know the feeling. The citizens of Haiti, Darfur and Palestine – they know that feeling. We must be vigilant for them as well.

The simple truth is that Mr. Zimmerman and those of a similar ilk, in a healthy society, are controlled by ethical systems and the vast majority of citizens who are healthy. Of course, in a healthy society, we do not have endless war, food and energy systems controlled by corporations, too big to fail banks, or an utterly dysfunctional federal government.

Nor do we have a gun lobby with no respect for human life. A justice system with no respect for justice. A police system in Florida where a violent attacker is not tested for drugs or placed in jail to await trial. There might be another hoodie who suffers the ultimate injustice.

In this broken and dysfunctional society of America, 2012 – we clearly need substantial change. We need a new cultural operating system based on ethics – principles like peace and love – instead of this broken system of globalization built by and for the 1%. Fortunately, such an idea already exists. It’s called World 5.0. It reminds us how a new, ethical system is critical. But like any other system, it will only be as effective as the people who are engaged within it.

Read other articles by Jim, or visit Jim's website.