Tuesday, July 16, 2013

An Octaroon's Take on the Zimmerman Verdict and Aftermath

My great grandfather's birth certificate is conspicuously marked with the letter "N."

If you follow the math, my great grandfather being black means, without more, that I am one-eighth black.  In the days of race classification laws and miscegenation statutes, I would be categorized as an octaroon.  I like that.  Jim Henderson, octaroon.

Now if you have met me, you may be surprised at that categorization.  At some points in my life, I have been the whitest white guy I knew.  As I have grown, and as the various coconuts have dropped from the family tree, I was already comfortable with my Native American ancestry (Cherokee, and, perhaps, some Ojibwa).  So discovering my bloodlines lead back to Africa just was not bound to bother me too much.

Now, in the aftermath of the acquittal of George Zimmerman, whose mother is Hispanic and whose father was Caucasian, we are forced to come front and center with America's most famous doubloon, Barack Hussein Soetoro Obama.  (Zimmerman can only qualify as America's most infamous doubloon because of his divided Caucasian and Hispanic heritage.)  As we know from reading Obama's autobiography (technically it is a biography since it was written by his friend), he is a doubloon, like Zimmerman, but his ancestry divides between Caucasian and African.

At the front end of the Zimmerman affair, we had our noses rubbed in the mess that is Doubloon Obama, when he allowed as how, if he had a son, he would resemble Trayvon Martin, the young man killed by Zimmerman following the affray started by Martin.  No.  Actually, Obama, he would have resembled his own mom and dad, not the self-aggrandizing and pompous buffoon living inside your clothing.  A family had just lost its son.  Another family was facing the real possibility of the personal destruction of their son via a race baiting media and a publicity craving prosecution.  All that Obama could think to say was that a son springing from his loins would resemble a dead child.  It's always about the Obamas, don't you see.

Now we've had our noses rubbed in the Obama mess post-verdict.  Could the President of the United States take the time to call for calm, to speak of the abiding respect with which Americans view the jury trial system as a means of finding the closest proximation of truth in any fact dispute?  No.  He was too busy playing the race card with a gathering of sorority sistahs.

Did the jury get the decision right?

Well, they had weeks of evidence, hours of argument by attorneys, mounds of instruction from a judge.  The attorneys did not claim that the instructions given were wrong.  The prosecuting attorney has not said a word, not one peep, about the outcome being prejudiced due to judicial error or the exclusion of evidence (a claim that could not be countenanced by reality, since the court gave the prosecution most everything it wanted, and was seen by numerous observers to be bending over backward to assist the prosecution in making its case).

I guess we will never know what happened in those fateful moments, except through the fractured lenses of various individuals.  Zimmerman did not testify but there was a recorded police interview.  Rachelle Jeantel did not record her conversations with Trayvon, but she did recall them during testimony.  There is no doubt that Zimmerman's gun, in Zimmerman's hand, ended Martin's life.  The only doubt that ever existed is whether Zimmerman was justified in shooting Martin.

We can know, though, that Obama's legacy in the racial healing department will not be as it was anticipated five years ago it would be.  True, we elected the first president with African blood in his veins.  One might say, at least since his autobiography was written for him, that we elected the first president that identified with the black race.  (We should be careful not to go overboard in calling Obama a black president since he is, by the same measure, a white President.  He is, in fact, America's first doubloon President.)  And though white America's voted for Obama in numbers that show expiation for all race guilt arising out of the Nation's history of slavery, Jim Crow, and racialization, we seem further apart and striated by race than during the Presidency of George W. Bush.