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The first couple of times I heard a celebrity boxing match between George Zimmerman and the rapper known as DMX was in the works I thought the idea was a joke.
But this match is not a joke – it is actually on its way to being contracted. And I’m terrified of what this means for us as a society.
George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch coordinator who shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin back in 2012 was acquitted of the murder and manslaughter charges against him, so on a legal level, no more can be done to hold Zimmerman to account.
There is, however, much that can and should be done to change the system that allowed that verdict to happen. The way to bring about justice is to use this horrible case and its powerful, emotional backlash to change what is wrong within our system, to make it reflect the peoples’ desire to move forward past racial disparities and unpunished hate crimes.
People are against Zimmerman because they are against his raw, blatant display of hate, violence, and discrimination.
So let me ask: why are we letting him stoke these exact same sentiments through a high-profile boxing match on TV?
We’re encouraging the hate. We’re selling malevolent violence that has nothing to do with the sport of boxing and we’re telling people it’s acceptable. George Zimmerman will learn nothing from the match except that he is a celebrity. That people are still paying attention to him. That people are paying to see more of him. He doesn’t have the power to label himself a celebrity, the people do – and are doing just that.
(George Zimmerman in Court/ Credit: Globalgrind.com)
Is this who we want to deem a success? Because that is how Zimmerman will see it. Even if his own bones crack, he will only hear the ca-ching of a cash register. Every punch will be a paycheck. Though all “benefits” are supposed to go to a charity, why would Zimmerman participate if he saw no personal profit, monetary or not?
A celebrityis someone who is celebrated. And on the anniversary of what would have – should have – been Trayvon’s nineteenth birthday, would he have wanted us to celebrate by deeming his killer a celebrity?
The other dangerous lesson that will come from this “Celebrity Fight” will be taught to the youth. And that will be this: fear must be fought with violence.
George Zimmerman found it necessary to guard his neighborhood with a gun, because he was scared, and because misconceptions in his life allowed that fear to morph into ignorance and hate – and likely the resentment of an entire race.
Trayvon Martin fought back out of fear. Though his fear may have been considered warranted, the result made it clear that offensive retaliation should never be the only option one thinks they have. Fear begets fear; violence begets violence. We must not let the cycle continue.
And yet, our society is fighting back out of fear.
It is terrifying that events such as Trayvon’s murder take place in today’s time. It is horrific that we did not have a proper system in place to bring his death to justice.
But those who support this event do so in fear, because they think there is no other way. Those who believe that it will produce any kind of redemption for the tragedy of Trayvon Martin are only ensuring there will be more tragedies in the future.
Fighting out of anger, hate, and fear will never bring about any kind of solace. What it will bring about are more vengeful, ignorant “neighborhood watches”, and more frightened youth who have been told their only option is to fight. To fight, and to fight until they are killed because of it.
Instead, I say we fight the violence, and fight the fear. I say we glorify love and acceptance in place of hate and ignorance.
The way to do that is not by attacking the living with the same cruelty that claimed the dead, but by honoring the lives that were taken unjustly. It will be by shining the spotlight on those who deserve it, not by hate-rallying against infamous celebrities and supporting sensationalizedTV.
It is our choice.
And with that, I think we should pledge to permanently keep the spotlight off of the villain, and instead hold Trayvon Martin in our thoughts on what would have been his birthday.
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