Trayvon Martin and Making Whiteness Visible

Ideas

If there is one hopeful note amid all the anguish and recrimination from the acquittal of George Zimmerman, it’s that growing numbers of white people have come to appreciate whiteness for what it is: an unearned set of privileges. And as a result of that dawning awareness, it’s become possible to imagine a day when that structure of privilege is dismantled — by white people.

Recall that immediately after the killing of Trayvon Martin, people of every race took to the Internet to declare “I am Trayvon Martin.” They wore hoodies. They proclaimed solidarity. That was a well-meaning and earnest attempt to express empathy, but it also obscured the core issue, which is that Martin died not because he was wearing a hoodie but because he was wearing a hoodie while black. Blackness was the fatal variable.

(MORE: Maya Angelou Reacts to Zimmerman Trial, Evokes Civil Rights Era)

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