Every time I try to start drafting a post about Trayvon Martin, I run up against the impossible reach of the issue.
There’s enough to say about the kid to fill an entire post, about the injustice of what happened to him. But I can’t tease those things out from all the other things: Zimmerman and his history of neighborhood vigilantism; Geraldo Rivera and the bullshit about hoodies; the appalling failure to investigate this crime as it should have been, when it should have been; the Sanford Police Department and their previous failures to deal appropriately with this kind of thing; the Stand Your Ground law in Florida and elsewhere (which I had not heard of before, and which makes my blood run cold); all the way out to parenting black children in this country, or ALEC and its influence on the legislative agenda of many states. It’s some kind of monster out of Lovecraft, with tentacles reaching everywhere — and I don’t mean that metaphor in a trivializing fashion. I look at this, and feel my sanity die a little. Along with my hope for humanity.
It’s too much to take in, let alone talk about coherently.
Especially when my thoughts sweep outward to take in Shaima Alawadi, or the people whose names no one asks about. And skimming through my browser window to find where those tabs had got to, I passed a bunch I’m keeping for a later post, about capitalism and economic inequality and I’m fooling myself if I pretend these things don’t tie together down at the root.
Fred Clark at Slacktivist was talking the other day about how depressing The Wire is, not despite of but because of its brilliance: it shows you how deeply ingrained these issues are in the institutions that make up our society, and how near to impossible change is. I haven’t watched more than maybe half a dozen episodes of the show because I can’t deal with looking that sort of thing in the eye; I need to stay away in order to preserve my belief that we can improve things. But the problem isn’t in the TV show — it’s in the real world. And sometimes you can’t avoid staring it in the eye.
The Sanford Police Department will likely face some consequences. Maybe we’ll get the Stand Your Ground laws struck down in a few places. But hacking out those roots and digging the whole mess out of the soil of our country . . . I don’t know how you do that. Days like this one, I wonder if you can.