Melissa’s newest column for The Nation, “Trayvon Martin: What It’s Like to Be a Problem,” is up today:
Trayvon Martin was not innocent. He was guilty of being black in presumably restricted public space…
For more than two years, vocal pockets of conservative activists and politicians demanded proof of President Obama’s citizenship—as if a black man was trespassing simply by being elected to the Oval Office. As the president was being asked to show his papers to the nation, state governments in Arizona, Alabama and South Carolina empowered police officers, school officials and merchants to demand proof of citizenship from anyone they deemed suspicious of immigration violations—suspicions that are triggered primarily by racial, ethnic and linguistic profiling. Despite the dramatic legal changes brought about by the ending of Jim Crow, it is once again socially, politically and legally acceptable to presume the guilt of nonwhite bodies.
This is the political setting for the moment when George Zimmerman approached Trayvon Martin as he walked home in the rain with a bag of Skittles.
Read the entire column here. We’ll have much more on this throughout the week on the blog, and in next week’s shows. Last weekend’s coverage of the case can be found after the jump.