This is my second piece for my summer series, “How Long Will Justice be Crucified and Truth Crushed?” This post specifically exposes the way that racialization results in violence to black and brown persons. One of the more recent examples of this phenomenon is the Trayvon Martin vs. George Zimmerman case. Not only does this case expose racialzation in its most violent form, but it also shows that theological language has been intertwined with systemic racism to benefit the elite of society.
Most recently, the perfect storm of racialization and its parasitic relationship with the oppression of marginalized persons arose in both the trial and the verdict of the George Zimmerman vs. Trayvon Martin case during the summer of 2013. Zimmerman, a 28-year old self deputized guardian of his suburban neighborhood in Florida, shot and killed an unarmed 17-year old Trayvon Martin after following him because he looked suspicious. While the entire trial was shrouded in controversy, the jury’s exoneration of Zimmerman was perhaps the most surprising act in the drama that was Zimmerman vs. Martin. While one can infinitely debate the character of both Zimmermann and Martin, Florida’s ubiquitous “Stand Your Ground” law or the competency of the prosecution, one cannot dismiss the reality that Zimmerman’s act was one that reveals the evolution of racialization at its finest.
While Zimmerman himself identified as a mixed-race Hispanic, it is fair to assert that the mentality Zimmerman articulated in an interview with Sean Hannity depicts an ideology that interprets dark bodies as less valuable than white ones. In his interview, Zimmerman readily suggested that his shooting of Trayvon Martin was, “God’s will.” The complexities behind Zimmerman’s assertion are many. Yet, Anthea Butler successfully deconstructs and condemns Zimmerman’s co-opting of “God” to justify his actions. Further still, Butler reveals the reality that racialization has (perhaps most pervasively) wedded itself to American-Christian theology. Butler knows “that the Trayvon Martin moment is just one moment in a history of racism in America that, in large part, has its underpinnings in Christianity.” J. Kameron Carter echoes Butler’s conclusion as he reflects on Zimmerman’s “god talk” and the way in which it reveals the U.S.’s racialization,
That Zimmerman is Latino should not distract us, for in fact it reinforces the point inasmuch as whiteness (and therefore the notion of the white, western god-man at its heart) is not a biological notion; it is narrative or a story… Whiteness is that story that one must aspire toward if one is to be deemed a proper citizen, a proper American. Rather than being biological, then, whiteness is better understood as a kind of discipline, something one must be disciplined into and thus something one must achieve and continually accomplish within oneself.