Daily Prompt: Make Up Your Mind

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Think of a topic or issue about which you’ve switched your opinion.  Why the change?

I have changed my mind about the George Zimmerman trial more times than I can count.  I still don’t know what I think, and I keep changing my mind because I don’t know which information to believe.

I am a white woman who grew up in a white neighborhood in a white suburb of a predominantly white town.  I have no idea what it is like to be black, and I never will.  It’s impossible for me to fully understand what it’s like to be the victim of racism.  I have no idea if I’m supposed to say “Black” or “African American” or “That lady over there in the green blouse” but I know that whatever I say it’s going to be judged as offensive to someone.

I don’t want to be called a racist.

I want to believe that Trayvon Martin was innocent.  That George Zimmerman was an angry, swaggering wannabe vigilante who shot a helpless child in cold blood.  That Zimmerman was 100% responsible for everything that took place that night, and that Martin was 100% innocent.

To think otherwise makes me a racist, right?  A Bad Person.

But we have been so manipulated by the Media that it is impossible to know what to believe.  Like most Americans, I’ve heard this story and that story and a million tiny “facts” that are actually fabrications, until the only thing I know is that I don’t know.

The photo we all see of Martin is of a much younger, more innocent child, not an accurate depiction of the seventeen year-old man-sized individual who died that night.  Innocent or not, plastering the news outlets with that little-boy picture is a blatant attempt at manipulating public opinion.   At making him seem child-like and guiltless, small and unable to defend himself.

I don’t know the truth about who did what that night, but I know that picture is a lie.  And that makes me angry.   If he was an innocent victim, why try so desperately to mislead the general public?

I’ve heard tales of the 9-1-1 tape being edited for broadcast by news stations intent on making a bigger story.     I’ve heard that Martin’s only injury was the fatal bullet wound, while I’ve seen the pictures of Zimmerman’s bloodied head and face.  And yet I’ve heard claims that there are pictures of an uninjured  Zimmerman walking into the police station, suggesting that he was beaten after the fact in a different altercation.

As a white person, I am afraid to voice my doubts.

I feel like I have to be angry about the Zimmerman verdict or risk being branded a racist.

The truth is, I really believed he would be found guilty.  Not because I believe he is guilty, but because I thought the jury would be afraid of the consequences of a verdict of Not Guilty.  I remember the riots after the Rodney King verdict, and I worried that the same thing would happen in this case.

Was the verdict a result of racism, or was it a result of six jurors who made a decision based on evidence alone?  I don’t even know if such a thing is possible, especially since Zimmerman was basically tried and found guilty on Facebook and in the court of public opinion long before this ever came to trial.

I am disgusted that one of the jurors has already done interviews and signed a book deal.  This strikes me as a terribly opportunistic move.  She should be ashamed, as should the bottom-feeders who have taken advantage of her thirst for fame and attention.

But what about the people on Twitter and Facebook who are calling for the death of the jurors and Zimmerman?  What about the folks fanning the flames of racism and hatred?  If there is more violence as a result of all of the exaggeration, hatespeak and outright lies, who is responsible?  Whose fault is it?

People, it’s not okay to protest racism by advocating more hate.  More violence.

Just because I am white, don’t assume I am a racist.  Just because I am questioning some of the stories circulating about Zimmerman and Martin, don’t assume that I think Martin was in the wrong or that Zimmerman was in the right.  I wasn’t there, and I don’t know.

And neither were you.

Black or white, we are better than this.  We are smarter than this.   We need to stop letting ourselves be spoon-fed by news media whose only agenda is the next big story.   We need to ask questions and not automatically believe every rumor, every bit of gossip, every inflammatory bit of anger-inducing crap that is posted on Facebook or shared on Twitter.

Black or white, we need to think for ourselves.

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129 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: Make Up Your Mind

  1. I believe it’s ok to say “I Don’t Know!”. There are a lot of issues which are clouded by the enthused media projecting one side’s perspective more than the other. It’s really difficult to take a side based on what’s shown in the partisan media.

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  2. Thank you for a great thoughtful post. I have decided not to decide on this issue. I will try to live the best way I can and not judge people or events that don’t directly affect me.

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  3. Why do you “want” to believe Martin was innocent and Zimmerman was an enraged racist with an eye to kill him? You are aware that Zimmerman isn’t white, correct? That were he to have taken his mother’s name and background he’d be Jorge Meza?

    The sad reality is that both individuals, Martin and Zimmerman, were essentially two headstrong idiots that met on a rainy night in Florida with horrible consequences. It wasn’t a case of racism. Nor was it a case of homophobia (Martin and his girlfriend speculated that Zimmerman might have been a male on male racist before the altercation begin). It was a case of a wannabe street thug encountering a liberal democrat communitarian do gooder with a Barney Fife complex. Like gasoline and a match the two don’t mix well together.

    Consider:

    – Trayvon Martin had a rap sheet.

    – Trayvon Martin was moving around behind homes rather than using the street or sidewalks.

    – Trayvon Martin, during the entire incident, chose to call his girlfriend. He didn’t call 911. He didn’t call the security number for the housing development. He didn’t call his dad. His girlfriend Jeantel didn’t call 911 either. Rather, she fueled his fear.

    – George Zimmerman (Jorge Meza) could have stayed in his truck and confronted Martin from the safety within.

    – George Zimmerman could have asked for an address of Martin then driven there to verify.

    – George Zimmerman could have chosen a de-escalatory approach which perhaps would have resulted in him giving Martin a ride to the residence in the complex he was heading to.

    Again, two idiots met up on a rainy night in Florida. One was scared out of his mind and wanting to prove his manhood to his girlfriend. The other was scared out of his mind and convinced the safety and security of the realm rested squarely on his shoulders. The result? A fight broke out and one died. (Easily it could have been Martin that, in the process of the assault, killed Zimmerman and oh wouldn’t that be an interesting trial to behold).

    The sad thing is that the many instances of someone who looks like Trayvon Martin being killed by someone who also looks like Trayvon Martin go by unnoticed in America today. Take for example Obama’s second hometown Chicago. Between Jan and Apr 2013 there were 94 homicides – largely people that looked like Trayvon Martin being killed by other people that looked like Trayvon Martin. This breaks down to almost six murders a week or almost one per day. Think about it. Almost every single day in Chicago, someone that looked like Martin was killed by someone that looked like Martin. And the media said?

    That’s right. The media said nothing. Nor did the windfall profiteers of Racism Inc – Jackson, Sharpton, Holder, and even Obama himself. It was only when a guy with a white and Jewish sounding name was implicated in the murder of a black kid that they cared. They only cared because they could generate political traction – and make a lot of money off of it too.

    On the plus side, the usual clarion calls from Racism Inc haven’t met with the same receptive ears they used to in the past. The “100 city march” didn’t amount to much. Aside from a gaggle here and a gaggle there or communist influenced rioters – mostly in Oakland and LA which are about as far removed from central Florida as you can get – most urban areas remained quiet. The Rodney King riots didn’t occur nor were National Guard troops required to enforce martial law anywhere despite Sharpton and others fanning the flames of hate.

    On the down side, the Attorney General took the unprecedented step of employing his department to continue to pursue Zimmerman – despite the fact that federal law wasn’t involved in the case, and that such pursuit may result in double jeopardy. This of course isn’t new. His justice Department used taxpayer dollars to bankroll anti-Zimmerman protests in Florida. The politicization of the Justice Department should worry all of us no matter how one feels about the outcome of Zimmerman v/s Florida.

    In closing, you “want” to believe the media narrative because it is the narrative they have imposed upon you for a very long time. Once you strip away their desired narrative and really look at the facts things become clearer.

    Thank you for your post and your insight into this difficult topic. I look forward to blogging with you in the future.

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    • I guess I want to believe Zimmerman is to blame because that would be easiest. I am married to a man who has a permit to carry concealed, and under the right circumstances he could find himself in a similar situation. When a young man tried to break into our home a few years ago and my hubby stood guard with a loaded weapon, we had no idea it was a 16 year old Mexican kid; if my husband had been forced to fire that shot to protect his family, would he have faced a similar media circus because he was a big bad white man shooting an unarmed Mexican kid?

      Yes, I’m aware that Zimmerman is Latino, although I think it’s disgraceful that the media downplayed his race while emphasizing Martin’s. And I know that there are murders every day that are ignored by the media because they don’t make or an exciting news story. Hell, my 14 year-old cousin’s rape and murder went unsolved for six years . . . Where were the protests and marches for justice for HER?

      I have to admit that I’ve done more research in the past few days. I find it interesting that the transcript of the 9-1-1 call shows that Zimmerman DIDN’T get out of his car after being told not to — that he was ALREADY out when told to go back to his car. And yes, Martin did have a sketchy background — but so did Zimmerman. Neither was as innocent as his side wants us to believe.

      Your reply here was fantastic. You should copy it right out of here and post it on your own blog too!

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  4. “It’s impossible for me to fully understand what it’s like to be the victim of racism.”

    This statement is usually true for the majority in any country. But even white people may be victims of racism in a country where they are a minority—for example Japan. The Japanese tend to not like foreigners even if they are other Asians.

    Another example was when I was a US Marine in the 1960s on my way to Vietnam and stopped off in Okinawa for a few weeks of training. One weekend, we went to an area in the capital city of Okinawa where black American military went on liberty and whites were not welcome. We were warned that if we stayed on their turf we would get hurt and maybe killed so we quickly left. In fact, there were four of us and one was black from our unit. The four of us were friends.

    He was the one who was warned and it shook him up because he was told that whatever happened to us three whites he would get it worse because he was hanging out with whites.

    Racism is not color shy.

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  5. I am so impressed with your writing style even though I have no opinion on the actual case. Not being in the US I know less than nothing about the story. Just had to say thank you and if you are really writing a book, can’t wait!

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  6. “Black or white, we are better than this. We are smarter than this. We need to stop letting ourselves be spoon-fed by news media whose only agenda is the next big story. We need to ask questions and not automatically believe every rumor, every bit of gossip, every inflammatory bit of anger-inducing crap that is posted on Facebook or shared on Twitter.”

    Good stuff. I heard one pastor describe the problem as being ethnic before being Christian (I’m a pastor, so that will influence my perspective). We’re too often Black before Christian. White before Christian. Republican or Democrat before Christian. We have our sense of identity in the wrong things….

    Thanks for the honest post!

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  7. “To think otherwise makes me a racist, right? A Bad Person.” No, it does not make you a bad person to have an opinion or point of view. As a black woman, all I ask is not to be judged, whether it is by the color of my skin or whatever reason. We should not be quick to cast judgement on others based on outside appearances. I won’t judge you either. Great post…thank you for sharing 🙂 Check out my post “Things That Make Me Go Hmmm..”, http://createdcreate-it.com/2013/06/18/things-that-make-me-go-hmmm/ . I think a lot about the issues in your post also.

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  8. I had a discussion about this with my friends as well and it’s so easy to play devils advocate in this case. I thought it would go one for years to be honest. I agree with you. We are better than this. Or we are supposed to be better than that. I believe that one side is no better than the other. I feel horrible for the parents who lost their child and that should’ve been the end of it. It should’ve been the case of a child who was shot in cold blood. For what reason did race have to come into this? I’m sorry if I’m not fully informed on the case or what occurred but what i see is the death of a child along with members of the family who are hit with sorrow, loss, and whatever else they may be feeling. I’m glad to finally see someone admit that they’re confused about the matter because frankly, I am as well. Confused in many different aspects but yes, confused. Thanks for your honest post. It was refreshing.

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  9. “especially since Zimmerman was basically tried and found guilty on Facebook and in the court of public opinion long before this ever came to trial.” Oh boy isn’t that the truth there….you nailed that on the head. It is hard to go on Facebook/Twitter/or any other social media after some sort of controversial decision is made.

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  10. Thank you so much for posting this! I, like yourself, was raised in a white household in a predominately white town. A town small enough and predominately white enough to know when a new black family had moved in. But I would like to think of myself not as racist but as unknowing. I had always heard mostly bad things about the black community so when I moved away to a school that is pretty equal in blacks and whites that attend, I received quite a life lesson. I’m getting better about how I perceive the world, and how I perceived this case. I do agree with you though. As a criminal justice and psychology major, you realize that eye witness testimony is the worst kind you can have and that they media sways how you think no matter if you watch FOXnews, ABC, MSNBC, or CNN. They play on what will be the best story for their ratings. Which is awful when all you want is the truth. Sadly, the only people who know the truth is George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.

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  11. inspiring post

    I look to write about face sometime in the near future but it can be such a controversial subject to even discuss.

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  12. Martin Luther King stated that he hoped his children would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. If we look at the facts in the case not just the pieces the media feeds us we could see that the portion of the media and black community that is so upset with this verdict is judging by the color of Trayvons skin and not the content of his character. Everyone is judging Zimmerman as harshly as they are claiming Zimmerman judged Trayvon, How is this progress? I dont know what happened that night but I have to trust the justice system and act upon fact not assumption.

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    • To some degree we know at a very fundamental level what did happen that night. Two individuals, incapable of getting over themselves, checked common sense at the door and met up with tragic results. Neither individual was purely good or purely bad. Rather, they were both too wrapped up in themselves. At any number of way points on the road to disaster they could have de-escalated but they chose not to: Zimmerman could have stayed in the truck, Zimmerman could have asked Martin for the address he was staying at then checked it out, Martin could have told his girlfriend to hang up so he could call the police, Martin could have used the sidewalk instead of backyards as his route to where ever he was headed, etc. No law says either had to do these things. Rather, common sense indicates such actions to be a more prudent choice when faced with the prospect of encountering a potentially violent unknown while alone, at night, on a rainy street in a less than safe neighborhood.

      Common sense isn’t something that is developed in people anymore. The media skews information to match a pre-determined narrative even if that means warping the facts to make it sound realistic. Politicians lie outright to us and for it they are subjected to praise and re-election. Entertainment has become a strange concoction of vice drawn often from current headlines and a pre-determined societal narrative. And social networking, for all it’s positive attributes, tends to isolate people into ever shrinking echo chambers where those same narratives are repeated over and over again in ever more hostile and snarky tones.

      Against that context consider who Zimmerman and Martin were. Both were way off in the deep end in championing those narratives and living in those echo chambers. It’s what fueled Zimmernan’s Barney Fife complex to make him believe he was Sanford, FL’s Hawaii Five Oh protecting the community. It’s what fueled Martin to believe he was gangsta enough to commit a hate crime* in public; and what fueled his girlfriend to urge him on by hinting that Zimmerman might have been a homosexual rapist.

      Had either individual stopped for a second and thought “what is a good way out of this” there never would have been an altercation in the first place. But we don’t do common sense anymore now do we?

      * Martin initiated his assault against Zimmerman because he presumed Zimmerman was a white man. Had Martin lived, conceivably he could have been tried for the commission of a hate crime given that by his own admission in cell phone transcripts he launched his attack based on the race of George Zimmerman.

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      • oh I agree completely but its so sad that saying that outright can get you in so much trouble these days. It seems as though people are jumping to Trayvons defense just because he is black and judging Zimmerman so harshly just because he is not. I wish I could think we had made progress on Dr Kings speech 😦

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  13. Thank you for this sane, respectable and most importantly truthful post. I was having a conversation with a friend today regarding the Zimmerman trial, and we got into a discussion about how here in America, regardless of what you say, odds are you’ll be offending someone, in someway, even if unintentional. He, being from Colombia, and living in England for quite some time, couldn’t understand why we are so quick to judge, ridicule or harass here. Even I, being from America, can’t seem to understand it either.

    Also, I completely agree with your view of the media, and the “terribly optimistic move” pulled by one of the jurors’ thirst for a book deal. I knew an interview had been done, but a book deal? But that’s what we do today– capitalize on the misfortune of others. The media has strayed so far from origin, I’m frightened to see what’s to become of it in the next 10 (or even 5) years.

    Thanks again for this post, great job.

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    • The answer is easy. Consider who the biggest windfall profiteers are in pushing misinformation about the Zimmerman case. Certain name brand media outlets. Certain household name agitators. And yes, a particular slice of the political pie. I fear that the situation is worse than you hint at. Consider that in Detroit the full-time (yes, they have a full time city legislature) City Council just wasted time debating and then passing a resolution about George Zimmerman. This is the same Detroit that just filed for bankruptcy. The same Detroit where: 40% of city street lights do not work, 2/3’s of ambulances don’t run, 1 hour is the average wait time for police to respond to a 911 call, over 200 of the city’s 300 or so city parks have been closed, 1/3 of the city is vacant, and where 47% of the population is functionally illiterate to include the head of the city’s public school system. Detroit’s statistics mirror those found in the third world. And yet the number one most pressing issue for a City Council in session 24/7/365 in times like these is to debate the George Zimmerman case? Cha-ching! Windfall profiteering in the political sense at it’s most vile.

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  14. Interesting reasoned assessment, thank you. We’ve heard a lot about this case in the UK too, but this is the first I’ve heard of the juror’s book deal. Does that happen often/is that legal? I didn’t realise that was even a possibility…

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