After the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who fatally shot an unarmed African-American teenager, the following words of the feminist, intellectual, activist, teacher bell hooks spread like wild fire across social media.
The growing number of gated communities in our nation is but one example of the obsession with safety…. The person who is really the threat here is the home owner who has been so well socialized by the thinking of white supremacy, of capitalism, of patriarchy that he can no longer respond rationally.
White supremacy has taught him that all people of color are threats irrespective of their behavior. Capitalism has taught him that, at all costs, his property can and must be protected. Patriarchy has taught him that his masculinity has to be proved by the willingness to conquer fear through aggression; that it would be unmanly to ask questions before taking action. Mass media then brings us the news of this in a newspeak manner that sounds almost jocular and celebratory, as though no tragedy has happened, as though the sacrifice of a young life was necessary to uphold property values and white patriarchal honor…. This is what the worship of death looks like.
The words were so applicable to the murder of Trayvon Martin, that many people assumed it was written or spoken in response to the case. Actually, the quote is both timeless and prophetic, and comes from hooks’ book All About Love.