The real fight over George Zimmerman is not about a boxing match. Hence, we cannot forget the serious implications about Zimmerman being featured in a Celebrity Boxing event.
Social media is buzzing and, once again, in the center of the bee hive is George Zimmerman. Earlier this week, TMZ broke the news of Celebrity Boxing promoter, Damon Feldman, setting a Mar. 01, bout that will feature George Zimmerman. This announcement is resurfacing deep-seated anger that follows Zimmerman, who was found not guilty in the killing of 17-year old Trayvon Martin.
The Zimmerman boxing match will take place three days after the second anniversary of Trayvon’s death. The event will come on the heels of Black History Month, when among the stories of Ralph Bunche and Shirley Chisholm, will also be told stories of injustice along the journey. Four girls killed in a bombed Birmingham church. Murder victims Emmett Till and Jimmy Lee Jackson. And now, Trayvon Benjamin Martin.
Some are outraged, that had a kangaroo investigation and trial not convened in the deep south of rural Sanford Fl., Zimmerman might be boxing in the open yard of a state prison against a buffed gangbanger who pumps iron as a pastime. The news of Zimmerman’s upcoming fight rekindled smoldering sentiments of people who have substantially contributed to this country’s stature, but who are marginalized by subtle reminders that black life has a sort of diminished value.[important]CELEBRITY BOXING HIGHLIGHTS Feldman promoted the Nov. 20, 2009 match where Rodney King won a decision against Bob Meloni, a former Chester police officer. Do you recall Tonya Harding beating Paula Jones into submission? That too was a Feldman celebrity boxing match. Barry Williams (Greg on Brady Bunch) took a pounding from Danny Banaduce (Danny on Partridge Family). Other matches included the Michael Lohan (father of Lindsay Lohan) squaring-off with Rocco, a DJ at Philadelphia radio station Q102. And Survivor reality show’s Gervase Peterson going toe-to-toe with an adult film star Travis Knight.[/important]
MAYBE, JUST MAYBE
In the midst of reaching my own inner boiling point, the Ancient Greek proverb spoken by Euripides and adapted by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to mind,
“He who would destroy you, would first get you mad.”
We cannot know with certainty, but maybe Feldman’s calculus in planning this event is that of a shrewd businessman. That is:
Turn hostility about the event into hostility about George Zimmerman. Feldman designed Celebrity Boxing around “the draw”. Lightning rod figures who, by their familiarity in the public attract interest, irrespective of their boxing skills. While Celebrity Boxing events have varied in success, to his credit, Feldman has assembled intriguing and even bizarre competitions. Zimmerman, unfortunately, is a familiar face. However, given the intense animus for Zimmerman, rejection of the featured fighter would be a rejection of the fight itself. The solution; switch the focus from Zimmerman to his competitor. Namely, create an environment where attention focuses on who will be selected to get in the ring with Zimmerman and take a pound of flesh in honor of Trayvon.
If this is Feldman’s strategy, it is working. The Game, rapper and actor, is throwing his hat into the ring. At 6-feet and 5-inches of black male muscle, the idea of Zimmerman facing a black man, is intriguing. I applause The Game for demonstrating that despite his own stardom, there is a profound sense of discontent about the Trayvon Martin killing that crosses socioeconomic strata.
But let us not allow Feldman to “game us” by shifting the attention from a serious issue. That of George Zimmerman. Which brings us to other troublesome issues with this event.
Feldman casting Zimmerman as a “celebrity”. I found myself consumed in the same disgust that African Americans and well-meaning non-blacks understandably feel about Feldman casting Zimmerman as a famous person worthy of spectating. Someone important. A household name. A “celebrity”. The notion that someone whose unknown life has taken on fame because he brutally put a bullet in an unarmed boy is an affront to what we say of ourselves as Americans. People of faith. And lovers of the rule of law.
On the surface, this issue might not resonate. So let’s look at some hypothetical scenarios to make the point. Imagine if Timothy McVeigh had somehow beat the charges for bombing the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Would it not be unsettling to have McVeigh featured in a “celebrity” event? What if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were somehow found not guilty in the Boston Marathon bombing, would you not harbor outrage that he were invited to compete in an entertainment event as a “celebrity”?
How then can we focus on Zimmerman or a potential competitor, without seriously questioning the insensitivity of Feldman’s treatment of Zimmerman as a star? This calculus that Zimmerman is a celebrity is equally, if not more, reprehensible. Consequently, focusing public sentiments on Zimmerman neglects the broader concern that, if not addressed, only paves the way for his future celebrity moments. All for someone who should be doing life in prison.[pullquote align=”right” textalign=”right” width=”30%”]“…focusing public sentiments on Zimmerman neglects the broader concern that, if not addressed, only paves the way for his future celebrity moments… “[/pullquote]
Donating to charity will soften the blow. The mention of “charitable contributions” invokes the good we have instilled in us by God. However, we cannot avoid the reality that the featured personality in this event is only known to the general public by having killed a teenager. The only charity that matters at this point is a confession by George Zimmerman and significant action on his part as an effort to bring something positive out of a terrible situation. Ordinarily, charity in the form of donation is a powerful incentive to support causes. However, charity in this particular situation is connected to a 9-mm bullet that pierced Trayvon Martin’s lung and heart. There is no softening of the blow. And quite frankly, I suspect a number of decent people who might ultimately benefit from the charity would take offense to the idea that the money came from an event that featured George Zimmerman.
People will attend to watch Zimmerman get his just desserts. The above considerations bring me to the third factor in what is possibly Feldman’s misguided calculus. That people will attend his event to see Zimmerman hit the canvass.
If you are chomping at the bit to purchase a ticket to the Mar. 01 event, think twice. Think about the hurt and anger. Think about the initial interrogation of Zimmerman that appeared to be a coaching session more than a search for truth. Think about a prosecution team that did no better than a group of first year law students, being outflanked from the opening statements to the closing statements. Think about a jury selection that ended with not a single African American who could convey the simplest of social dynamics. Why, for instance, blacks look around to be aware of our environments at-night and not because we are looming over the cover of night for a victim to assault or a house to rob. Think about the racists, some in media and some who found the Zimmerman case as an opportunity to climb out of their hole, who turned a 17-year old boy into public enemy #1. Consider that Zimmerman’s humanity failed Trayvon. The media failed Trayvon. And justice failed Trayvon.
Think about these things and more. Remember them. And take a moment to consider the grief and the hostility about Zimmerman killing this young man.
Now consider these two questions. First, if you feel as you do, can you even begin to imagine what the parents of Trayvon Martin must feel? And now this question:
As much as the Martin family’s sorrow and anger are immeasurably beyond yours or mine, do you honestly think either of the Martin family members will be in-attendance at Feldman’s event to watch Zimmerman?
Having given these some thought, I highly doubt the Martin family will be in-attendance. And if they are not going to be there, I certainly will honor them by not attending.
SO WHAT WE CAN DO
Feldman has disregarded the magnitude of sentiments a large segment of America shares about what took place in Sanford two years ago and in the Seminole County Courtroom of Judge Debra S. Nelson on Jul. 13, 2013. Zimmerman’s upcoming boxing match is not deserving of our participation, but only our protests. The just response would be to ignore Feldman’s event. No challenge to Zimmerman. No attendance. And most certainly, no donations. The only knockout that matters at this juncture is to put George’ Zimmerman’s undeserving celebrity on the canvass. Alternatively, the public might take this opportunity to do what does honor Trayvon Martin and the family. Namely:
1. Use the time leading up to Mar. 01, 2014 to contact your State Senator and Representative. Demand reforms to Stand Your Ground laws (what I refer to as “Kill and Claim“). We must translate our anger into action if politicians are to take steps to redress this serious legal issue.
2. Reject any charitable donation from the event. Organizational leaders, remember that donations from this event were paid in Trayvon Martin’s blood. Do not accept the blood money. Further, for the public in-general, commit yourself to a protest response targeted at any organization that does accept money from this event.
3. On Mar. 01, invest in the life of a young person. On Mar. 01, we can choose to remember Trayvon Martin by giving our time to a young person through a community, church, or family activity.
4. Submit your thoughts and prayers on the Trayvon Martin tragedy. Click here.
5. Donate to and get involved with the Trayvon Martin Foundation. We can own our charitable contributions without needing a Zimmerman-featured event.
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