In the latest installment of the long-running miniseries, “The O’Reilly Factor,” Bill O’Reilly swears he’s not racist, but argues that Trayvon Martin did indeed die due to the way he looked–though not for the reasons many of us believe.
You see, by “us,” I mean those rascally rabbits aware of the racial politics at play in George Zimmerman‘s killing of the 17-year-old boy and his subsequent acquittal. O’Reilly says race wasn’t at play, y’all. No, no perish the thought.
What led to Trayvon’s death then?
It’s all about Trayvon purportedly perpetuating a “gangsta” mentality by way of the dastardly symbol of violence known as the hoodie. Yes, per O’Reilly’s assertion, if Trayvon solely dressed as if he had some damn sense, Zimmerman would not have profiled him, picked a fight and proceeded to kill him as he began to lose the fight he initiated.
Watch O’Reilly explain his logic below:
As he explained on a recent episode of The O’Reilly Factor:
“The reason Trayvon Martin died is because he looked a certain way, and it wasn’t based on skin color. If Trayvon Martin had been wearing a jacket like you are and a tie, Mr. West, this evening, I don’t think George Zimmerman would’ve had any problem. But he was wearing a hoodie, and he looked a certain way, and that way is how gangstas look. And therefore he got attention.”
Those “gangstas” and their fall-appropriate manner of dress are begging to be shot dead by neighborhood vigilantes as they partake in “gangsta” activities like the purchase of Skittles, if I’m getting O’Reilly’s logic right. He then continued to whine about the state of the Black family as if he truly cares, though it’s a moot point all the same, given Trayvon had two active parents in his life before Zimmerman killed him.
Interestingly enough, as Raw Story noted, O’Reilly infamously told Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill that he looked like a cocaine dealer in 2010. Was Professor Hill on The O’Reilly Factor rocking a hoodie, displaying visible tattoos under his eyelids and the side of his neck, and holding his crotch as he demanded Mr. O’Reilly hand over some fried chicken? Of course not. As fate and irony would have it, Hill had on a suit and tie.
Justin Timberlake would’ve considered Hill to be a gentleman, but O’Reilly dismissed him as a coke dealer. Hey, Bill, was Hill’s suit was so expensive you assumed he must’ve been doing something illegal to be able to pay for it? That’s still racist, you know.
The Nation’s Mychal Denzel Smith recently wrote about another young Black man who lost his life far too soon for no other reason than being Black. He was college educated, and hell, even went to the police for assistance. And yet, the very officer he turned to subsequently killed him without reason.
Why? Smith doesn’t go the dress code route, arguing:
Jonathan Ferrell did everything “right.” He got an education. He worked hard. He was engaged to be married. His crime was being in a car crash and seeking help. In the process, he was profiled as a burglar, shot and killed. No one sought to protect, serve, or even listen to him. He had his humanity erased even after doing it all the “right” way.
So yes, you can go into debt to get an education, or play college football, wear a suit and tie to work in corporate America, or serve this country in the armed forces, but so long as you are black you will be subject to racism and white supremacy. You will constantly have to answer questions about your existence and prove that you belong. And in some instances, like that of Jonathan Ferrell, you may not even be given the opportunity to explain.
That’s why Black men like Trayvon Martin die, Mr. O’Reilly.
Not because we don’t know how to be “civil” in the eyes of prejudice-harboring White men such as yourselves. But due to the fact there are plenty of people like you who see “drug dealers” and “thugs” in Black men no matter what they’re wearing. Some of those people are armed, allowed to shoot Black men down over presumed criminal activity and then managed to get out of their own crimes committed in our legal system. In turn, you continue to blame us for running into the bullets.
There’s some gangstas involved alright, but none of the men O’Reilly has talked about.
Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick
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