This is one of the complicated paradoxes of demanding justice from the very state that is so often the object of our critique—in order to demand justice we end up conferring legitimacy on the state whose ability to use violence we try to delegitimize. We may want to see George Zimmerman’s arrest, prosecution, and, probably, imprisonment, not only because some of us, in our more sadistic moments, would like to see him suffer (and thereby collapse suffering into our imagination of what justice should look like), but also because some of us likely believe it will be a way to register our collective rejection of the white supremacist imperatives that make a person like Trayvon Martin killable. Yet, in appealing to the power of the police to arrest, and to the power of the courts to sentence Zimmerman, we also make heard a message that we might otherwise hesitate to send: namely, that we believe that these institutions—the police, the courts, the law—are institutions capable of delivering the justice we want.
Read the rest: Justice for Trayvon… but how?
- This is the second article I have seen (also, Trayvon Martin and Black People For The Carceral State…) that speaks to the challenge of seeking justice from a flawed and racist injustice system. I wanted to post them here because I think they raise important, critical questions. That said, it is also really difficult to listen to the 911 calls, and hear from Trayvon’s parents, and reflect on yet another young, black man being killed, and not want some sort of response from the current system (flawed as it is) that is widely recognized as legitimate. So, whatever that justice looks like, we must continue to demand accountability for the killing of Trayvon Martin.