| Society

We Are Not All Trayvon Martin

Why tackling what happened to Trayvon Martin requires more than shouting his name and pretending you are the same.

[dropcap style=”font-size:100px; color:#992211;”]W[/dropcap]e are all Trayvon Martin now, right?

The whole world looks at George Zimmerman and as long as we can shout his name, we can prove we are not him and as long as we can shout, ‘We are all Trayvon,’ that means there is nothing of Zimmerman in us.

This is just a racist in a backwards racist country and we are all Trayvon now so that country will be dragged out of ignorance into the warm fuzzy glow we all share, that we hate Zimmerman enough that there will be no more Trayvon Martins without anyone ever having to reflect. Just shout loud enough over there.

Human beings are funny creature; when we are ashamed or afraid of something within ourselves, we seek out people with that quality so we project onto them that shame. Hating that quality in others is easier than reflecting.

The only way you can challenge structural oppression is by understanding your place in that structure. How you benefit from that system, how you uphold it, how it impacts you and you it, and why you would seek to protect your place in it and understanding how that system shapes your existence.[quote]Not for the piety of

micromanaging your

language and behaviour

for appearance sake[/quote]

Being honest that about why you seek to protect what is yours, to identify the way you do, to live the way you do and reflecting on your actions and impact on the world you are in. Not in order to argue with people on Twitter, not for the sake of forming a new hierarchy of inequalities, but for the sake of understanding. Not for the piety of micromanaging your language and behaviour for appearance sake or to kid yourself you won’t always be offensive to at least someone and they may have good reason.

Only by reflecting on your place in the system can you understand that we are not all Trayvon Martin; some of us are the lawyer, the judge, George Zimmerman, the friend on trial as witness, the camera man…the woman who served these people coffee on the way into court.

You have to acknowledge that your heart stopped when you hadn’t realised you had landed to refuel, and you opened your eyes to a plane with men whose skin colour and ethnicity brought a pulse of fear you know has been falsely sold. Because when you are honest that that actually happened, you can be honest about where that came from, and how that came about.

The car clicks President Obama says were the soundtrack to walking around, because of his blackness, are not heard by you because of your whiteness. That the change in pace of a woman on the street at night is because she is afraid and her fear is justified even if you have done nothing to cause it. All of a sudden you understand the system a little bit better, just by understanding yourself. And then you can start affecting it. Even if it is just one less click heard.[quote]The car clicks President Obama

says were the soundtrack to

walking around, because of

his blackness, are not heard

by you because of your whiteness[/quote]

When you acknowledge you cross the street or instinctively put your keys between your fingers in certain situations, and you reflect on why that is. You understand where this is coming from, how it is part of your being. Understanding that the thing that drives you to put your keys between your fingers is what creates the culture that allowed a boy to be killed because his skin colour was deemed enough to make him frightening.

When you know that, you see why we don’t all need to be Trayvon Martin. Why we need to understand why we are NOT Trayvon Martin and why we all need to understand who we are.

Why tackling what happened to that boy requires more than shouting his name and pretending you are the same. And at that point you can start listening and looking around at other perspectives, and with that you begin to be able to contextualise yourself in a system.

Not seeking the tolerance of those who benefit from standing on you, not arguing about who can tick the most boxes and remember the words some people used on Twitter. [quote]We are not all Trayvon Martin,

some of us are the lawyer,

the judge, George Zimmerman,

the friend on trial as witness,

the camera man…[/quote]

But changing the system just by looking at the whole picture and seeing how many perspectives there are in that picture and understanding what actually connects you and how things intersect, and knowing you can’t stand on someone you see as being as valid a perspective as yours.

Instead of trying to create artificial connections that require tribalism to sustain, which is impossible in an environment where so many things need to be understood. The common understanding built JUST by having to co-exist and co-operate with people who may be very different to you, shared humanity and human existence soon removes the ability of one group to dominate and weeds out unacceptable behaviour.

A multitude of perspectives eliminates the batshittery quite quickly. Politics becomes a mechanism in democracy, instead of homogenous tribes standing on everyone for the benefit of those in the court they wish to impress.

Our media no longer have the ability to impose a narrative on behalf of homogenous tribes for the benefit of those who can pay, without it being interrupted by new perspectives. That cannot be undone and has started a process that is unstoppable.

It is only by understanding we are not all Trayvon Martin that you can begin to understand how we all fit together and learn from watching the dominance of one perspective diluted and washed away, by the intersection of millions more.

That might mean understanding that you may not carry a gun like George Zimmerman, but you do react in a way you don’t like when you see black skin. That doesn’t mean shouting as loud as you can at the next week’s George Zimmerman or the Daily Mail.

When you take your top off for Femen, there are women who have the right to be offended at what you have done, even though you still think it was the right thing for you to do.


Photo: Copyright Ryan Vaarsi


Comments are closed.

Our weekly newsletter

Sign up to get updates on articles, interviews and events.

Join Trebuchet on PatreonExclusive content and full media memberships available

This is the patreon page for Trebuchet podcast and website. We publish a beautiful printed magazine biannually and release an irregular podcast on contemporary art every month (or so). 

Our website is updated every other day with new art news, art criticism and much more. Become a backer and join us in discovering new forms of art that raise the heart rate and electrify the mind.