George Zimmerman’s cosmic just desserts
My lady readers might have danced through this tricky scenario. You’ve done your hair in a new way, maybe just to try something new or to impress a special someone. Or maybe you haven’t. Maybe you haven’t even showered.
Maybe you’ve just had a one night stand, and no matter how hard you rub under your lids—begging the cosmetic Gods for mercy—there is still black caked beneath both eyes.
You are walking along the street; let’s picture a city street here, because for some reason those tend to be all the more harrowing. A man sees you. He’s looking longer than he should.
Maybe you should feel flattered, because he noticed your extra effort in front of the mirror this morning, or because he is noticing you despite the bed head. But he isn’t smiling, or he is smiling too much.
He isn’t giving the sort of attention that you want, let’s be sure about that. No, he is giving you eyes that you’ve seen before. The kind a forty-year-old, portly father and unfaithful husband might give you while you are resting your sore feet in the back of a dance club—the kind that is ruthlessly shoving dubstep into your ears and is trying to trap your bare soles to its sticky concrete floor that has been decorated in spilt vodka drinks, glitter and discarded gum. You try your best not to look him in the face, lest your gaze encourage his attraction toward you. Yet, he lowers his glasses so that his gaze overcomes the physical obstacle of his frames in his frenzy to trace your upper thigh. His lips are curled in a way that suggests hunger rather than friendliness, and the toes of his vintage cowboy boots point to you as he stands as erect as possible to suggest his masculinity.
Ladies, it doesn’t take much to conjure similar strains of discomfort that you’ve experienced. Is it palpable? Men, can you imagine it? Is it tingling in your guts, maybe making your heart beat at a higher pace?
That bundle of perturbation is nothing compared to the torment currently being experienced by one of America’s most notorious citizens. It has been over a month now since it was announced that George Zimmerman would not be considered guilty for the murder, nor the manslaughter, of Trayvon Martin.
George Zimmerman cannot walk into a grocery store to pick up an after-work beer or a bag of oranges without feeling piercing eyes. Everyone’s piercing eyes…those of men and women, of all races. And those eyes aren’t slowly undoing the button of his pants; they are not caressing his lower back.
No, they are tracing the shape of his skull, wondering how large the scars really are and who actually gave them to him. They are staring at his trigger finger, wondering whether it quivered when it sealed the fate of an innocent young black man.
The justice system may not have been fit to provide him with a verdict that would be deemed suitable by the majority of the American populace, but Zimmerman’s judgment continues, and will continue for the rest of his living days.
Zimmerman stares down at the shiny linoleum floor of each aisle in his local supermarket so that he does not have to receive the accusatory glances of those who surround him. As he reaches up to grab a bag of flour, the woman two paces down sets her bag of sugar in the cart. Her mouth remains agape and her jaw open until her eyebrows contort into a look of supreme hostility. Her mature beauty is contorted into an ugly rage.
As her child murmurs, “Mama,” from the shopping cart, she spits, “Murderer,” at the man who ended the life of a seventeen-year-old, quickly gathers the cart and skirts away.
He is hungry after work one day and feeling a bit too lethargic to cook his own meal—so he drives to a diner, located just one neighborhood over. Locals have started to recognize his car, and as he stops at a red light, all four passengers in the car beside him raise their middle finger as high as their anatomy will allow.
A set of stairs leads to the front of the diner, equipped with a rotating door, and as he steps out from the muggy Florida air and into the air-conditioned restaurant everyone looks up from their meals. Looks of satiation and satisfaction rapidly transform. Some sacrifice the last bite they’ve taken in order to spit in disdain.
Club sandwiches and chicken-fried steak go neglected as he closes in on the hostess stand. Mouths that were being used to chew are now being used to chew out Zimmerman. The woman sitting with her elbows rested on the stand, with red lipstick and a sloppy perm, announces to him that they’ve just closed the kitchen and that he’ll have to leave, now. As he exits the historic diner, an establishment that once only catered to white individuals, he experiences déjà vu, but he just can’t seem to place why the situation would be familiar.
Just imagine the disaster at the DMV when he had to renew his license.
All of these situations are hypothetical but undoubtedly watered-down models of what must Zimmerman must currently be undergoing. A man, who undeniably allowed his bigotry to rule the way in which he behaved, will now face prodigious amounts of discrimination.
A nation that once had white-only bathrooms will have “everyone-but-George-Zimmerman” bathrooms. And the hatred conjured by the world upon mention of the man’s name is not based on the way he looks, no; it is based on the content of his character.
The sick irony of Zimmerman’s situation is that for the rest of his life, he will be facing concentrated versions of the sort of profiling and antagonism nonwhite citizens have to deal with everyday within the United States. He may not be passing through his remaining years locked behind a cell, the orthodox punishment for his behavior, but he will be marching through the rest of his life in another race’s shoes.
To all my readers, I’d like to remind you never to judge a book by its cover. But do grill someone hard for his or her actions, because the justice system isn’t always equipped to do so for our society.