In another strange twist in the trial of George Zimmerman Thursday, Zimmerman’s defense attorney tried to paint Trayvon Martin as a racist because he used the term cracker.
Really dude? It’s your client who is on trial. Trayvon, a 17-year-old child who was minding his own business walking home from the store with a bottle of tea and a pack of rainbow Skittles is dead.
We had an interesting panel discussion at work this week based on the Supreme Court’s repeal of a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the continuing conversation about Paul Dean’s use of the n-word.
One member of our panel marveled at the fact that her sons, who are white, listen to music that is filled with a word she finds so offensive. She’d been taught for years not use the word, and now, young people are using it as a term of endearment.
When did the script get flipped on the n-word. Which was used for decades as an attack word. In fact, some who were fond of the word used it as they were murdering and lynching people.
An 81-year-old woman on our panel said something powerful: If you call me the n-word instead of my name, she said. I’m going to have a problem with that. The 18-year-old in our group said his friends use it, and though he doesn’t condone it, he doesn’t mind its use as long as it’s not used to degrade someone.
So, back to Trayvon. Like most young people of his age, they don’t see the term in the same light as those of us who grew up in the 50s, 60s and 70s. To us, the n-word was a fighting word. A word that provoked fear and hatred. Trayvon no doubt used the word in conversation with friends. He probably used the word cracker in the same way, when he referred to Zimmerman as the “creepy a.. cracker” who was following him the night he was killed.
Furthermore, even though I don’t condone the use of the word cracker, I don’t recall any white people being killed behind it. It doesn’t carry the same baggage as the n-word carries to people of my generation and older.
For the sake of argument though, what if Trayvon was a racist? Does that mean it was okay for Zimmerman to follow him and shoot him? That seems to be what Zimmerman’s attorney is saying.