“White Hispanics,” “Creepy-Ass Crackers,” “Teenage Mammies,” and “Suspicious A–holes who always get away” — that is the vernacular of the George Zimmerman trial.
George Zimmerman faces life in jail as a jury considers second-degree murder charges against him for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. But thanks to the media he is already sentenced to life in the American public’s mind as a racist.
The New York Times has referred to him in unique racial terms as a “white Hispanic.” The terminology was necessary to have the story fit into a well-worn news narrative throughout American history from the Scottsboro Boys to Emmett Till to Rodney King – the black victim of white racism. Hispanic people can be as racist as black or white people in a country with a deep history of racism. But, apparently for the Times, Zimmerman’s whiteness was important. It fit their good versus evil tale of a white racist killing an innocent black man.
In June, before the trial started, a CNN poll asked Americans if they believed the murder charges against Zimmerman were true or false. Without any courtroom testimony or evidence, but based on the racially charged media coverage, 62 percent of Americans said the charges were “probably true” or “definitely true.”
My bet is that poll would have different results today. The trial has failed to prove Zimmerman acted with a “depraved mind” – as required for a second-degree murder conviction – or even with a racist mind. He certainly killed Martin. And the jury may decide he is guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter. But what we heard in the courtroom fits with an FBI report that found race was not a factor in Martin’s shooting death.