By Marquise Griffin
“George Zimmerman wants to box rapper DMX in celebrity bout, but no deal yet.” I honestly can’t tell you how many times I facepalmed when I read that headline from CNN. Zimmerman just can’t seem to keep himself out of the news.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past two years, Zimmerman was accused of second-degree murder for killing Trayvon Martin, an African-American teenager who looked suspicious to Zimmerman as he was walking home late at night. Zimmerman cited the state of Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law and claimed self-defense. Spoiler alert: Zimmerman was acquitted.
Following the over-publicized trial, Zimmerman’s name popped up in the news a couple more times including incidents of domestic violence accusations by his estranged wife in September 2013 and Zimmerman’s girlfriend accusing him of the same thing in November.
In December, Zimmerman was in the spotlight once more for his not-so-flattering painting of Angela Corey, the Florida State attorney who prosecuted him.
And in about a month, Zimmerman is going to strap on gloves and step into a boxing ring with a black man who made it very clear that he’s “out for blood. According to CNN, “DMX says he will break every rule in boxing” in order to beat up Zimmerman. Oh, and the money is going to charity because these types of people have to do that.
Let’s start with the obvious thing: this is exploitation in its most blatant form. Damon Feldman, the promoter who set this match up, knew exactly what he was doing. And a quick Google search of Feldman will show that he’s been accused of fixing the outcome of boxing matches.
Second, this is reinforcing stereotypes. One of the oldest stereotypes about black men is that we’re excessively violent. DMX has made it very clear that he wants to “break every rule” while fighting Zimmerman as a form of revenge for killing Martin.
Third, this is a celebrity-boxing match. So we’re calling Zimmerman a celebrity now? Welcome to America, where you can become a celebrity by getting aquitted after shooting and killing an unarmed black teenager.
All sarcasm aside, it’s things like this that remind us that despite the fact that we have an African American president serving two terms, we’re not in a post-racial society. Despite the fact that it’s been 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech, we’re still not moving forward as well as we should.
When I first received news of this whole fiasco, I wanted to ignore it. I didn’t want to address it because I felt like by doing so I would be adding more attention to it. That’s the Catch-22 of racism. But that’s the only way we’re going to conquer racism is by calling it out. We have to commit ourselves to shunning passivity and getting actively involved. That’s how we can do more in four and more in a lifetime.