White Female Jurors and Florida Justice
It was clear mid-way through the trial that Zimmerman was not truthful. He lied about knowing stand your ground law. He knew enough to know that he needed to lie in order to not be seen as a vigilante, or at fault as a stalker. Again, my lawyer spouse says that usually the client, if innocent, takes the stand. It is also not insignificant to learn, post-verdict, that Zimmerman was a thug with domestic abuse charges filed against him on two separate occasions. Zimmerman supposedly feared for his life? Really? And Florida law backs him up. Again, really?
Trayvon’s story intersects with multiple crises today. The problems are ferocious. Guns are too plentiful and the access to them is too easy, especially in Florida. Stand your ground laws are inherently aggressive and lethally dangerous. Juries of 6 are too small to make racially mixed juries more probable, especially in the predominantly white parts of Florida.
Racism—the profiling of others as dangerous because of their skin color—is not named or called into question so it parades silently and dangerously. The whiteness of the jury is not inevitably a pre-determined problem, but it usually will be. Neither is the all femaleness of it. But when unquestioned and unconsciously so, the homogeneity is. Racism has blurry lines. The law knows only true/false; cause/effect; guilty/innocent.
The only hope for justice in a racially, gendered, class unequal society other than fundamentally changing this is to try and take responsibility for seeing the injustice in the system of justice. Otherwise, it is simply one injustice on top of another. The only hope to counter prejudice is to recognize it, name it and try to see more by pushing yourself beyond it. This is the closest we can get to fairness while pushing hard for structural change.
Marissa Alexander was recently sent to prison for 20 years for shooting into the air to avert a violent and abusing husband, also in Florida. Clearly, (Black) women do not get protection under “stand your ground” law in Florida. It is reserved for (white) men.
I do not think the legal system in the US can attempt justice as long as it pretends to have objectivity as its pretense when inequality of race, gender and class obfuscate the possibility of fairness. Racism in its gendered forms remains the problem here, not simply the law.
Racialized gender in the form of the dangerous black boy/man is a form of white privileged terrorism. With new laws like “stand your ground” and with the anarchy of guns and gun laws the verdict in this trial endorses a terror filled society, most especially for Black people and people of color other than white. Let us begin a real war on terror: begin real gun control, dump stand your ground law, and re-structure white privilege.