As a Memphis native, I know just how blessed I am when I use a restroom labeled “Women,” instead of one labeled “Colored.” My parents were raised in the south during the Jim Crow era. They watched army tanks ride the streets of South Memphis, on the night Dr. King was killed. My biracial great-grandfather ignored his own children in public, fearing that he’d be beaten (or worse) because he was passing for white in Mississippi.
Today, I addressed racist remarks from my graduate school classmates – supposedly educated people – in a public forum. Today, a murdered black teenager was portrayed as a blood-thirsty beast, not the frightened high school student he was.
While others protested the Zimmerman verdict on foot or on keyboard, I remained silent in my sadness. However, the news that George Zimmerman allegedly rescued a family from an overturned truck forced me to regain my voice.
Comment after comment stoked my outrage:
“Once again, Zimmerman is a hero. When he’s not protecting the safety of his hard working neighbors, he’s doing the right thing and rescuing someone who probably wanted him convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Zimmerman, I salute you for doing the right thing in spite of what the country has done to you.”
After everything, to some Americans, Zimmerman is a hero.