*Some White Americans have insisted on campaigning the phrase, “I am not Trayvon Martin,” to show solidarity in light of George Zimmerman’s acquittal. While others have taken a surprisingly different approach.
Reactions to the verdict have ranged from protests, looting, rallies and boycotts. We have even witnessed some public leaders calling others out for their involvement or lack thereof.
But now, of all the reactions, the one that is the most surprising is that of an admitted white racist man who posits that he’s not Trayvon Martin, because he “killed” him.
In an essay posted on Overbear.Wordpress.com, Eddie Hatcher writes that he believes Zimmerman was fearful of Trayvon because he is also fearful of Black manhood. Acknowledging that the fear — cultivated in “hunt clubs, on farms, in country stores, and in gun shops” in a small North Carolina town — was instilled in him as a child, he describes it as “unreasonable,” but very real.
Read his open letter below:
In our minds, we were not discriminating against anyone because of their skin color; we were simply describing the way people acted, their mannerisms, language, dress, etc. Nothing about that seemed racist. Sure, the N word was thrown around occasionally, but black people use that word to describe themselves, so we thought it was OK.
Looking back, I think the worst part may have been the “justified” fear. While the words of wisdom demanded that I not talk to strangers, a part of growing up was learning which strangers were safe and which were dangerous. Of all the strangers out there, none were more important to avoid than black men. If you see a black man, check for your exits. Make sure your friends and siblings are close, as they might not have noticed the black man yet. Whatever you do, don’t talk to them. The more of a “homie” they appear to be, the more dangerous they are.
Of all the speculation of what happened the day that Trayvon Martin was shot dead, one detail of the killer’s story that I do not question is his claim that he was afraid. No doubt he has learned, like me, to be afraid of black men. Florida law says that Zimmerman had a right to stand his ground and defend himself if a “reasonable person” would fear for their life in that situation. No reasonable grown man with a gun would be afraid of a skinny minor, but a racist person like myself would.
But unlike Zimmerman, I take ownership of my fear, my racism. I’m not going to shoot someone because their skin color makes me afraid. I’m going to do the opposite. When I see the “black man in a dark alley” and that childhood fear pops out, I push it down to replace it with a smile and a nod. When people cultivate that fear, innocent children die.
Seeing Trayvon Martin’s murderer go free leaves me feeling hopeless, as though no amount of effort as an adult can undo the damage I did as a child.
I’m like an alcoholic trying to change my life. I’ve walked through the door, but there are 11 more steps and I have no idea what any of them are.
I killed Trayvon Martin.
Read entire essay at News One.