On Appropriate Victims: More on Trayvon Martin and Other Names You Need to Know

Image of Rekia Boyd

Part of the reason folks rallied in reaction to Trayvon Martin’s murder has to do with ideas about who is an appropriate or worthy victim. He was shot by a vigilante, he wasn’t armed, he was a good student, had some class privilege, he was doing something mundane, simply returning from buying Skittles and ice tea. He was “innocent” and killed in cold blood.

We have an idea of who is deserving of support en masse and who is not. And for similar reasons we thought, with 911 tapes, eyewitness testimony, national outrage that it would result in a prosecution in the very least. If anything, the murder of Trayvon Martin shows us once again that there is no such thing as an “appropriate” Black victim.

Despite all evidence, Geraldo, Gingrich and others have found a way to make Trayvon the guilty party in his own fatal shooting. When brown and black men wear hoodies, they are asking for it. In a moment when it seems undeniable that race is a factor, people are still denying it! They even use victim blaming language.

Last week was International Anti-Street Harassment Week and I was struck with the similarities between the harassment that Black and Latino men experience by the police and the experiences of trans and cis women and gender non-conforming folks on the street. The language used by men of color to describe police harassment, is very similar to the language that those of us marginalized by our genders use to name our realities. Our clothing choices, our right to be where we are, when we want are all called into question.

Stopped, Frisked and Speaking Out from NYT The Local – Ft. Greene on Vimeo.

It seems that this time we can begin to talk across these incidents of violence and see the ways in which societal oppression is killing people. When you wear your hoodie for Trayvon, also think of:

Shaima Alawadi
Rekia Boyd
Deoni Jones
CeCe McDonald

Because these victims were women, Iraqi, trans, they didn’t pass the appropriate victim test. News media and popular opinion hasn’t prompted folks to take to the streets in the same numbers for them. But people are making the connections. We can be more coordinated with our outrage. We can demand a justice that doesn’t rely on the very system that didn’t help Trayvon in the first place (will we really be satisfied with the prosecution of Zimmerman? Can’t we ask for something else?). We can build solidarity to deal with the xenophobia, transmisogyny, and racism that target our communities in similar ways. In the wake of this tragedy we can start new collaborative initiatives that support survivors and families that are recovering after loss and move our collective response from reaction to revolution!

moyazb

moyabailey.com

20 thoughts on “On Appropriate Victims: More on Trayvon Martin and Other Names You Need to Know

  1. Count me as one white woman who totally agrees and gets it. I’m in Orlando and going to rallies in support. My hope is that the world can hold Sanford to doing it right for once. They’ve not got off to a good start and we’re not stopping.

  2. We also need to be concerned (maybe even more so because statistically it’s a bigger problem) about the Thugs in our neighborhoods with guns who kill young black men daily across this country. Gangstas killing young black men is a plague on communities. Why do they have guns too? George Zimmerman shouldn’t have had a gun, that’s obvious, but why do drug dealers and robbers who killer sons and brothers and fathers get away with it? No one wants to snitch and so they do it again and again, and no one is outraged and we do not march.

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  4. Our young black, latin and disabled people are often misunderstood. Our culture in the US is known for just killing what they don’t understand. My brother Stephon Watts was young black, autistic, and misunderstood! He was shot by two officers twice in his chest, in front of my father in his home! These people are suppose to protect us but all they do is kill us. RIP little brother I will fight until I am with you!
    http://www.JusticeForStephonWatts.com

  5. Thank you for this. I will definitely take action on the CeCe McDonald case. Thank you for being a light in this darkness. Too much of the mainstream conversation relies on the very powerful assumption that targeted groups deserve safety ONLY if they “earn” it with “good” behavior. It’s a lie, but it would be unjust even if so-called good behavior really did serve as a shield. After all, those who are viewed as white, middle-class heterosexuals don’t have to behave well to know that the nation values their safety, their lives, their basic human dignity.

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  8. “The language used by men of color to describe police harassment, is very similar to the language that those of us marginalized by our genders use to name our realities. Our clothing choices, our right to be where we are, when we want are all called into question.” And this is EXACTLY WHY we need too stand in solidarity as ONE, especially as minorities. OUR STRUGGLES ARE SO SIMILAR, it’s not even funny. Recently, there were reports out of Maine about groups planning to fan the Black homophobe fire that threatens to propagate the #H8 that GNAWS at the fabric of our community. And we let them because of Leviticus o_O

    “In the wake of this tragedy we can start new collaborative initiatives that support survivors and families that are recovering after loss and move our collective response from reaction to revolution!” You are SO RIGHT: we can call for more that Zimmerman’s prosecution, because the ENTIRE Sanford PD, PDs across the BOARD and people with racist/prejudice/bigoted mindsets need to be held accountable for their miscreant tendencies. It is 2012 for Christ’s sake: WHEN WILL SOME OF US GET WITH THE PROGRAM? [gay marriage, interracial dating, a Black 2 term-President et al]. #vOte2012

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