Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dear Discomfort Czar, #2

Dear Discomfort Czar,
Do you ever feel comfortable?
I'm sincerely wondering.
--A reader

Dear Reader,
No. Or very rarely. Thanks for writing.
The Discomfort Czar

Dear Discomfort Czar,
Do you have anything to add to the conversation on the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida? It seems like a topic you would have something to say about.
--A concerned citizen

Dear Concerned Citizen,
I, like you, have been concerned with these tragic events and have read and listened to many thoughts and insights about what happened that night in Florida between those two humans. Unfortunately, no one besides those two will ever know what really happened, and even if both were still alive to tell about it, their versions could differ dramatically because of everything we know about memory and perception and so forth.

We have been told that Trayvon Martin was black, and more recently we've been told that George Zimmerman is Hispanic. One thing that occurred to me, and that I haven't heard anyone else mention, is that the name Zimmerman, at least in the world I come from, is usually Jewish. I feel that the label black definitely has meaning, or is meant to have meaning, in the context of the shooting, but I am not sure what meaning the label Hispanic might have, except to suggest some inherent tension between the two ethnic groups? And if George Zimmerman is Jewish as well as Hispanic, I'm not sure what that would mean or why no one has mentioned it. But as the Discomfort Czar, my job is not really to figure out meaning, but to acknowledge and illuminate the full range of potential discomforts that relate to diversity.
--The Discomfort Czar 


Jim Poznak said...

Clearly, Zimmerman was uncomfortable with Martin. This is a gated community. The folks who live there must feel a lot of discomfort. Maybe Martin also felt discomfort and perhaps he was trying to deal with it or make a statement by walking there. Hopefully, the boys' actions were not in vain and will help raise everyone's consciousness about the catastrophe that can occur due one's discomfort of diversity.

Susan Messer said...

True, the more honestly we examine our discomforts, the more likely we are to have some insight into them. Whether these deep, instinctive fears will ever go away . . . well, that is something that keeps the Discomfort Czar up at night.