For decades, Jim Crow laws made this crime statutory. They codified the spaces into which black bodies could not pass without encountering legal punishment. They made public blackness a punishable offense. The 1964 Civil Rights Act removed the legal barriers but not the social sanctions and potentially violent consequences of this “crime.” George Zimmerman’s slaying of Trayvon Martin — and the subsequent campaign to smear Martin — is the latest and most jarring reminder that it is often impossible for a black body to be innocent.This is the left-wing presentation of the case. All I want to talk about here is the photograph The Nation has used to illustrate this item. We see a 3-year-old child, a boy who happens to be black. He's been dressed in a black hoodie — the item of clothing Martin was wearing when he died — and given a sign to hold. The sign has a picture of a bag of Skittles — the candy the 17-year-old Martin had in his possession when he was shot — and the words Justice 4 Trayvon Martin. The child's eyes are downcast. He looks terribly sad.
But he can't possibly be sad about racism in American, injustice, or the death of Trayvon Martin. He's 3 years old!
He's probably sad because he's been dragged to a protest and made to stand around, holding a sign, at knee level to a lot of adults who are angry about something he can't understand. Who knows the ways in which a 3-year-old absorbs the emotions of the adults who surround him? Does he even know he's black, and if he does, does that have meaning for him? What meaning is he learning — that he's guilty of being black?