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I Am Not Trayvon Martin

April 30, 2012


and to the middle class, white, socially concerned activist who wears a shirt emblazoned with those slogans, you are wrong.

This is the bold start to an impassioned Youtube video:

I thought I’d share it because it really gets at some tricky points. Namely, that it is a function of privilege for a middle-class white activist to try to “become” or appropriate the role of an oppressed minority group. She says (quite elegantly) that

“Realizing that you more closely resemble a homicidal oppressive force than a helpless victim is a really uncomfortable thing to do.”

She also turns the discussion to a different angle when she says (in relation to Zimmerman) “there but for the grace of God go I”, not because she feels sorry for someone who felt justified in killing a child, but more to illustrate that society as a whole tells us that  minority groups are a threat.

Related to Arizona, look at how the Mexican American Studies program was banned: the justification in the law, among other parts, was that it encouraged latino resentment towards whites, and advocated the overthrow of the US government. (The method used to rile up non-whites? Teach history from a non-white perspective).

I found this video to be an interesting perspective, and a good follow-up to the previous Trayvon Martin post. Let me know what you think!

One Comment leave one →
  1. cfr27 permalink
    May 4, 2012 3:38 pm

    That girl is pretty badass – and she makes a good point. If you look at the situation from the point of view of women’s activism, nobody would take seriously a man who wore a shirt saying “I am Jane Doe and I was denied access to a safe and legal abortion” because a man would never have to (at least not directly). I took a few classes in applied indigenous cultures as well and from what I could understand, the majority of Native Americans would rather work alongside a white person who is understanding, educated, and acts like themselves than a white person who adopts some bastardized Native name like BearClaw and tries to “be” an Indian.
    I read somewhere that (linguistically speaking, but it also applies) that one way people try to create camaraderie in register and communication is to somehow create likeness and similarity – so, to agree and say “Oh, that happened to me too, so we are alike.” It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does cross boundaries when true issues like this murder come to light. Nobody wants to be the bad guy or the one who can’t relate, but I think the people in question would prefer it if the activists owned their own identities and fought for the rights for others to do the same.

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