By Elspeth Reeve
The hunt for the white Trayvon Martin has evolved since the case became national news, with a changing cast of victims and perpetrators, but the problem has remained the same: instead of countering the racial narrative of the Martin case, it has only reinforced it.
For years, guys like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh have condemned people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as “race hustlers,” arguing they’re making a living exploiting phantom racism. But the point of finding a white Trayvon is not to prove that racism isn’t real, but that racism is justified. To refresh your memory: the outrage over the shooting of Trayvon Martin was not just that George Zimmerman assumed the unarmed teenager was a criminal, but that the police let Zimmerman go without a charge because they thought it was credible when Zimmerman said he had to use lethal force against a kid carrying with Skittles. You probably remember the rest.
But what you may have forgotten is how much fixation there was on the idea that if the races of Martin and Zimmerman had been reversed, the outcome would have been different. On the left, this gave birth to a meme (shown above) that went viral after The Grio posted it in May 2012. It’s intended to create sympathy for Martin — that fewer people would have assumed Martin deserved to be shot if he were white. But on the right, to try to shut down the outrage and counter the attention that the Martin case was receiving — or at least to rebut the claims that the shooting was a clear-cut example of the deadly results of racism — there was an effort to find real-life incidents of reversed races that weren’t leading every cable news channel. Here are a few of them.
The Black George Zimmerman
In Greece, New York, in 2009, Roderick Scott, who is black, was acquitted of manslaughter when he fatally shot a white teenager he had spotted breaking into cars outside his home. According to Scott’s testimony, at about 3:30a.m., he heard people outside, grabbed his handgun, went out, and saw three teens breaking into a neighbor’s truck. When he confronted them, one started running at Scott. Unsure whether the rushing kid was armed, Scott shot him twice. Scott killed Christopher Cervini, who was 17.