America and its Lust for Action Against the "Menacing" Black Male
1 year ago
George Orwell's classic essay "Shooting Elephants" and Trayvon Martin
The views expressed in this Op-Ed do not reflect that of the Loop 21.
In his classic essay titled “Shooting an Elephant,” George Orwell writes of a colonial, sub-divisional police officer’s experience in twentieth century Burma. The narrator, who we presume to be Orwell, reflects on the officer’s pursuit of a rampaging elephant in heat that was ravaging the fragile village that stood in the way of the humongous beast’s unpredictable path. The impassioned elephant even killed a man who could not dodge the animal’s urges.
The policeman responded to the Burmans, who hated officers as much as the entire British occupation, by summoning for a rifle to simply scare the elephant into an unpopulated space and allow nature to take its course. The pursuit quickly became a hunt as two thousand members of the small community expected to see a breathtaking finale.
Eventually the officer sees the elephant grazing peacefully in the clear. But, he still has thousands of people on his heels with the unmistakable expectation of action. Within the moments of a decision, the officer realized that he committed to killing the elephant when he grabbed his rifle. The demands from the mob reinforced the commitment. Orwell states, “He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it."
Therefore, the policeman shoots the enormous elephant. He shoots it again, and again, and again and again.
We are killing elephants everyday. Trayvon Martin is the collateral damage of a society wanting action against the menacing black male.
The Trayvon Martin killing of February 26, 2012 is related to other cases in cities and towns across our country like New Orleans. Martin is the brother of Justin Sipp who was killed days later on March 1 in a shootout with New Orleans Police officers after a traffic stop. Trayvon Martin is the brother of Wendell Allen who was killed March 8th by a New Orleans police officer; however, they killed the unarmed Allen during a drug bust.
[ALSO READ: Open Letter to George Zimmerman]