Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Advice To Zimmerman If Texas Beckons


George?  Is this the same George Zimmerman from that nasty Florida case?

Well, what a coincidence.

News is starting to spread here in north Texas that you were stopped for speeding Sunday on Highway 80 in Forney, just east of Dallas.  Now, George, "Highway 80" is the name of the road, not the speed limit, OK?

We do have some mighty high speed limits here in Texas, but ain't none of them around the Dallas area.

You were driving a gray Honda pickup truck that a dispatcher confirmed is your personal vehicle.  And you notified the cop who pulled you over that you were traveling with a gun in the glove compartment.

That wouldn't be the same personal vehicle you were driving that night you spotted Trayvon Martin, is it?  And that's not the gun you, um, shot him with, is it?

I know you're probably sick and tired of having people ask you about Trayvon Martin, but I also know you've admitted to the media that you're going to have to live with that teenager for the rest of your life, considering what you did to him, and how our nation has reacted.

And I can understand that maybe you've come to Texas - or were at least driving through our big state - in an effort to put some geographic space between that tragedy and your future.  If you are thinking of making a life for yourself here in north Texas, the welcome you received from the cop - who let you off with just a warming - may not be reflective of how everybody here thinks about you.  But the odds that it's shared by more people than not are probably higher here than in other parts of the country.

It's pretty obvious - at least to me - from the video of your traffic stop that the cop was on good behavior when he pulled you over, and then when he realized who you were, he realized he needed to be on his absolute best behavior.  At that moment, when you prompted his recognition of your name and face, he probably figured that some time soon, the dashcam video he knew was rolling in his squad car would be all over the Internet.  And he was right.

Yeah, a lot of folks here in Texas are likely willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, and it's not simply because we're white, and you're half-Hispanic.  Not everything is about race, after all... but have you seen the dashcam video?  When the cop gets in his squad car, he describes you to the dispatcher as a white male.  I wonder if that was a Freudian slip on his part?  A copy of that cop's report on your traffic stop is now online, too, and according to your Florida drivers license, you're listed as a white male.  Who'd have thought such an innocuous notation would contribute to the racist vitriol now associated with your name?

Anyway, like I was saying, if you're scouting out possible places to re-establish your life here in north Texas, you'll probably find that our heat is somewhat similar to Florida's, although not as humid.  It's been pretty humid here so far this summer, but that's only because we've had an unusually decent amount of rain.  This year, things are mostly still green, too, which usually, by the end of July, isn't the case.

During this past year, we've heard over the news practically everything there is to know about you.  Then again, I doubt there's anyplace in America where you could find a community that doesn't know all of that stuff.  Here in north Texas, we've got a huge population spread out over a considerable chunk of prairieland, which may make it easier for you to both blend in, yet find a bit of privacy.  I don't imagine you're terribly wealthy, after having to pay for all those lawyers, and I'm not certain about your marital status, and shucks - I said I know a lot about you, but I don't even know if you have any kids!  You don't, do you?  That could make your house-hunting even easier, since you wouldn't have to consider school districts, which tends to complicate things, the bigger the city.

No matter where you go in north Texas, to rich white neighborhoods or minority ghettos, you're bound to find some rednecks with some pretty racist attitudes, and that may or may not be OK with you.  I hope it's not.  You'll also find that a lot of us aren't convinced one way or the other about the racial profiling some people insist you perpetrated against Trayvon.  Since I'm white, I can't say any police department here has ever profiled me - except to look at me as a white male, and maybe assume that my skin color is sufficient proof that I'm not about to commit a crime.  But we've had accusations of racial profiling here, and like yours, they've not been clear-cut.  So in terms of keeping a low profile, I highly recommend you do that, even here in north Texas.

I'd also recommend that if you really are a bigot at heart, you just keep on driving, clear on outta town.  Just because people like me are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt after your jury trial doesn't mean we're going to stand by and let you prove us wrong.

If, however, you want to make amends somehow, and even reach out to the black community - something that might be nearly impossible for you to do in the racist climate of Orlando, I'd like to think north Texas is as good a laboratory for racial dialog as anyplace else.  Unfortunately, we have an ugly history of racial segregation here, and even considerable parts of both Dallas and Fort Worth are defined more by skin color than anything else.  Well - I guess they can also be defined by the amount of wealth people have, but it gets complex quickly when you realize that our wealthy neighborhoods are pretty white, while our ghettos are mostly black and Hispanic.  Our middle-class neighborhoods are becoming quite mixed, though, and since that's probably what fits your budget, you'll have a decent selection to choose from.  East Dallas, the Oak Cliff section of Dallas, parts of Arlington, Irving, the Mid-Cities, north Fort Worth, Carrollton, and Mesquite would make good places to begin your housing search.

Shucks, even Forney, where you were pulled over, might be a good fit for you, but I personally view towns in our exurbs with muted affinity, since I'm not a fan of sprawl.  Of course, a lot of it depends on if you're looking for a job here, and where that job is located.  The further out and away you are from the central parts of our Metroplex - what we call this metropolitan area of Dallas and Fort Worth - the longer your commute.  And while our gas prices are probably cheaper here than in Florida, rush hour traffic can be a nightmare.

Speaking of nightmares, the worst of yours is hopefully over, but it could come back with a vengeance if you abuse our relatively liberal gun laws here in the Lone Star State.  When the cop warned you about playing with your gun during the traffic stop, he was serious.  We're big on concealed-and-carry here, and hunting is as big a sport as football, which is saying something.  But gun safety and responsible gun ownership are huge deals to most Texas gun owners, because they don't want to give any gun-control advocates a reason to clamp down here like they have in other parts of the country.

Obey the law, and you'll be fine.  Of course, that's pretty much the way it is anyplace, but at least, here in north Texas, if you're trying to turn over a new leaf, or simply fade into the woodwork, even people who despise the George Zimmerman the media has told them about may change their tune if the person they see in you isn't the person they saw on television.

Our winters will be a whole lot more brutal than any you've experienced in Florida, 'cause some of them arctic blasts from Canada can blow through here like you wouldn't believe.

Oh - and one other thing.  If you're going to move to north Texas, driving a pickup truck is a good thing.  But you won't build much credibility by driving that gray thing you got pulled over in.  Trucks in Texas basically consist of the Ford, Dodge, or Chevy variety - not a Honda.

After all, you've got your reputation to consider.

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