The origins of the word cracker are uncertain. What we do know is that Trayvon’s use of “cracker” drew on a long history of mass racial violence by whites against African-Americans that began with the transatlantic slave trade and the plantation system in the “New World.”
“Cracker” is evocative of the sound of the whip, wielded by a white overseer or slave owner, as it lashes and tears black flesh. Cracker is a word that embodies white on black racial violence and tyranny.
Cracker is in no way equivalent to the word nigger.
Were millions of white people killed and enslaved by blacks holding the lash and calling them “crackers?” Were there signs that segregated whites from blacks that read “no crackers need apply” or “crackers sit in the back of the bus”? Were white people burned alive, their bodies defiled, postcards taken of their corpses, and public gatherings where blacks killed “crackers” by the thousands? Were there racial pogroms where blacks running amok, pillaging, raping, murdering and destroying property at will, yelled out for the blood of “crackers” in places like Tulsa, East St. Louis, Chicago, and Rosewood? Were there sundown towns that had signs on their outskirts which told "crackers" “not to let the sun set on them here” or they will be killed?
No. To suggest that the words "cracker" and "nigger" are at all similar is an act which is both intellectually dishonest and a lie.
History is rife with cruel coincidences and ironies. For decades, Sanford, Florida was a sundown town. Blacks were not welcome in its city limits. White racism was so potent in Sanford, Florida that Jackie Robinson, the trailblazing hero who broke the color line in baseball, was not allowed to train there.
When Trayvon Martin called George Zimmerman a cracker he was channeling a sense of existential dread and fear of white racial violence. Trayon’s worries were prescient. George Zimmerman would later shoot and kill Trayvon after racially profiling him.
George Zimmerman is also a creep.
George Zimmerman stalked and followed an innocent person on a rainy night. Strangers with loaded guns following innocent people around in the dark are almost by definition “creepy.” George Zimmerman has been accused of sexually molesting a relative. He has been visited with a restraining order for domestic battery. Zimmerman has also been in a fight with the police. On the evening he shot and killed Trayon Martin, he was taking a medication which can cause anxiety, violent impulses, aggression, and hallucinations.
As demonstrated by his many phone calls to the police, George Zimmerman is obsessed with harassing and confronting black people who he feels do not “belong” in his neighborhood. Zimmerman is such an extreme Negrophobe that he has even called the police on a black child who was walking down the street.
The throaty rasps of his call to the police and anger that “fucking punks. those assholes they always get away” was that of an obsessive, one whose exhalations were more suited for a phone sex line than a 911 call. George Zimmerman’s obsession with black people and vigilante-ways were that of a deviant, and yes, a creep.
The efforts by colorblind racists, the White Right, and Zimmerman’s defenders to invert reality so that he is a “victim” of “black racism” in the guise of the word “cracker” is part of a larger social dynamic in the Age of Obama. Recent public opinion research has revealed how white folks now believe that “anti-white” "racism" is a bigger problem than systematic discrimination against people of color in the United States.
Fantasies of white oppression are not just the product of disinformation circulated by the Right-wing media. They do serious political work by legitimating the gutting of the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action, as well as distracting the public from how white racism and white privilege continue to systematically disadvantage people of color to the detriment of the country’s economy.
A yearning for a belief in the lie of “white oppression” also fuels the rise of the militia movement and domestic terrorists who believe that Obama is not a legitimate and democratically elected President. The logic which tries to falsely equate “cracker” and “nigger” is also operative in the Herrenvolk dreams of the Tea Party and the Republican Party’s efforts to resuscitate the Confederacy and Civil War era controversies about secession, nullification, and “states rights”. Ultimately, the lie of “reverse racism” and “white oppression” is a means to rewrite history in order to legitimate White power and dominance.
The simplest definition of racism is that it consists of power plus prejudice. On the night when George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, it was Zimmerman with both the power of the gun and who prejudged an innocent person walking down the street by virtue of their skin color as a threat.
Such behavior has been the modus operandi and habit of “creepy ass crackers” in the United States for centuries.
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