“Feelings of Fearful Grievance and Humiliation”

There’s some striking honesty in Harold Pollack’s take on Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Harold’s characteristic empathy and insight are also on display, as tends to be the case whenever he writes anything:

I’m still trying to wrap my head around what was in George Zimmerman’s head that led him to shoot a young high school student who posed zero threat to anyone. I wonder if something happened to him that led him to this behavior. Zimmerman doesn’t strike me as an evil person. His life story does seem to contain more than the usual dollop of struggle and trouble: minor scrapes with the law, credit card and job problems, etc. The Trayvon Martin case wasn’t the first time Zimmerman was involved in impulsive violence committed under ambiguous circumstances. I wish Zimmerman had gotten whatever help he needed to have found a better path to personal accomplishment and recognition than to seek violent confrontations with real or imagined criminals.

When I was not much older than Trayvon Martin, I was the victim of a scary beating in the New York subway. I was the victim of other crimes, as well. Around the same time, in the bad old days of high-crime New York, my gentle cousin was beaten to death by two teenage burglars he surprised in his home.

For too many of my young adult years, I walked around with a lot of anger. Because the perpetrators of these crimes were African-American, my anger included definite, albeit implicit and unarticulated racial overlays.When one carries such feelings of fearful grievance and humiliation, the mix is potentially explosive. I know something of the stereotype-reflexive flinch some people experience at the sight of a young black man buying Skittles and wearing a hoodie.

You should really read the rest. It’s a great blog post, and a nuanced, refreshing break from the overall hysterical tone of the coverage of this shooting (not that hysteria isn’t a bit warranted given the nature of the incident).

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.