Take your pick of medium: TV, radio, podcasts, internet, face book, twitter, newsprint, blogs, email, etc. No escape for anyone from the Zimmerman-Martin case. And just articulating that sentiment bought upon me the label of “racist.”
How did this come about? After 12 long hours in the OR, in a rare moment of insanity, I sat down and turned on the TV. Intending to turn on the Turner Classic Movie channel, I had a glimpse of the protests of the verdict. I couldn’t stop watching and heard analyses, reactions and replays of key moments in the trial.
I shared my feeling of weariness of the day and the news coverage with someone close to me who railed at me for being a “racist.”
I am sure that this trial is seen by many to be a referendum on race relations. And perhaps it is. But I didn’t follow it and don’t know the details. But I do know that the jury gave its verdict, and in the USA, whether right or wrong, justice is thus “served.”
Justice cannot erase the tragedy of a life lost. And no matter what really happened that night a tragedy occurred that should raise more than the question of racism. Why was Zimmerman afraid? Why is there a neighborhood watch? Why did Zimmerman need a gun to protect the property (and maybe the lives and limbs) of people in a gated community? Is this an aberration or a pattern of behavior? And for whom?
But those questions were shooed away by my accuser when I said I was weary of hearing about this trial. I was branded a “racist.” Astonished, I protested (which absolutely proved this accusation to be true!) But I plowed on, “After all, I have spent my life helping people regardless of race, religion, social standing or ability to pay. I roomed with a black woman in college. Some of my friends are black, and so on……..”
When it comes to racial/ethnic relations, there is no straight talk. It is a double bind is that we must learn about different cultures so as to be “culturally literate/sensitive.” And yet when I make use of my “generalizable” understanding of say, the eating practices in the African-American community (useful in my treatment of obesity and acid reflux), these generalizations can become labelled racist.
I don’t think this is right.
Not every crime committed against a person of color is racially motivated any more than a crime against a Jew is always one of Anti-Semitism.
And what about other culturally based behaviors and how well they are tolerated? Okay, here is my personal story. (Not the same magnitude, but my personal experience.) As a New York Jew, transplanted to mild mannered mid-west like Buffalo, my way of speaking loudly, firmly and fast is intimidating to some people. Well, this is my culture. Do I not deserve the same cultural sensitivity? Clearly not as evidenced in how I was brought forward for discipline because I spoke too loudly during a clinical emergency of one of my patients.
I have shied away from controversial topics recently. Recently lost my taste for too much conflict. But I felt compelled to share with you why I don’t think that I am a racist because I am tired of hearing about a trial that should have been over when the jury spoke.