Why are white protestors largely missing in action at the Trayvon Martin rallies?
Across America, thousands of protestors are attending rallies for Martin, the 17-year-old black teen who was shot to death on February 26 by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida. Even in Toronto, Canada and as far away as London, England, where racial profiling also occurs, demonstrators sported hoodies and demanded justice for Martin in front of the U.S. Embassy.
For people of all backgrounds in this country, Trayvon’s death is striking a nerve. Over 2 million people have signed a petition on Change.org demanding justice—a petition started by a Kevin Cunningham, a white man who studied law at historically black Howard University.
And to be sure, many non-black people are attending the rallies. But it is worth noting that while blacks are anywhere from 12 to 33 percent of the population in the communities holding these rallies, 90 percent of the protestors appear to be black, based on media observations.
As one presumably white person said on Facebook while commenting on a photo of the Sanford rally, “Where are all the white people? We need to stand together.”
So what’s going on here? Some black folks in Sanford suggest that many whites are supportive, but do not want to display any public sentiments for fear of being called a “ni**er lover.”
Like Emmett Till’s mother back in 1955, black parents these days worry that their sons are in harm’s way, and instruct their children on how to comport themselves when stopped by police. Too often, society equates black skin with criminality.
“Walking while black—merely being black—still seems to be a crime in this country,” said Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“This is not news to folks of color. This is what happens, and has happened for years,” said Tim Wise, an anti-racist educator, writer and activist on The Melissa Harris-Perry Show.
Wise notes that anti-black bias is common among whites, and that people of color, including one-third of blacks have internalized racial bias. “White folks can say I am Trayvon Martin to try to show solidarity. The reality is for a lot of us we are more like George Zimmerman, and we have to be honest about that if we are going to move forward,” he added.
When President Obama suggested that his son would have looked like Trayvon, some white conservatives condemned his statement. Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich called Obama’s remarks disgraceful. Robert Zimmerman, father of the gunman, decried the “hate” coming from President Obama, the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus.
And Joseph Farah of WorldNet Daily said ”[W]hen the race hustlers like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and race hustler-in-chief Barack Obama started exploiting, I began to think we were being conned once again, by (the) vicious, biased, America-hating, leftist-controlled press.”
And so, it is no wonder that whites are scarce at the Trayvon Martin rallies.