Let me offer a different take on the George Zimmerman case. I don’t think it was about racism or racial profiling.
Sure, the media quickly spun the shooting as racism, and President Obama firmly implanted racist themes when he (unwisely) weighed in. But I don’t think Zimmerman was motivated by racism. I think it was far more primal–a guy thing.
I think George Zimmerman was a no-account fellow going through life powerless, unrecognized, invisible. But having a gun made him feel like a Big Man. And with gun in hand, he could pursue his fantasies of being Someone to be Reckoned With. For his little neighborhood, he wanted to be perceived as Jack Nicholson’s Man on the Wall. Protector of Society. A man to be appreciated and respected. And having a gun put all of that within reach.
So when Zimmerman saw someone traipsing through the neighborhood who didn’t seem to belong–well, it didn’t matter if the guy was white or black or in between. And it didn’t matter that the police told him to stay in his car, to not approach. Zimmerman was overpowered with a macho fantasy to fulfill. This was a situation he had dreamed about. He needed to ride to the rescue, gun in hand, and save the day…and win the applause of his protectees.
And so, Zimmerman blundered in, and things went badly.
Was it self-defense? Maybe. Did Martin attack him first? Maybe. But it wasn’t racism that started the thing rolling. It was a guy who carried a gun without understanding the responsibilities that go with it.
(I could be totally wrong. It’s happened before.)