Trayvon Martin and Hunger Games Twitter Uproar: Two Distinct Incidents Show Why America is Not Post-Racial

In an August 2011 USA Today/Gallup Poll, only 21% of respondents said that civil rights laws were still needed. Only 15% of whites surveyed said that they still served a valid purpose. While this poll didn’t directly ask, “Is America a post-racial society?” It is fair to gather from the results, that many Americans do believe it is indeed one. Every once and a while in our post-racial nation, however, Americans are forced to confront some ugly truths. If the ongoing Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Saga wasn’t enough to prove that this nation is far from reaching the ideals of racial equality, the tweets of chattering fans of the film Hunger Games proves it. Below are a few of the tweets that stood out most for me (Tweets which have since been removed).

“Why does Rue have to be black? Not gonna lie, kinda ruined the movie.”

“Why did the producer make all the good characters black?”

“Call me a racist but when I found out Rue was black, her death wasn’t as sad.”

The last tweet is particularly grotesque, given that it comes on the heels of the killing of Trayvon Martin. This tweet could have easily read: Call me a racist but when I found out Trayvon Martin was black, his death wasn’t as sad.  First off, I want to state that I in no way believe that these sentiments represent the feelings of an even sizable segment of the film’s audience. The prevalence of people willing to put these words in writing is only a small bit of what makes these words excellent bits of social commentary.

These words are hard to stomach because they are written with the casualness of a simple jeer like, “Don’t waste your time and money.” One tweeter, embarrassed and sufficiently shamed wrote a blogger, who posted their tweets, asking them to take down their posting and subsequently apologizing for their racist comments. This problem can’t, however, be cleared up with an apology. Deciding to send a racist, off the cuff tweet signals deep racial biases that can’t be forgiven with a simple apology.

I lost more faith in the idea that America is close to becoming a race-blind society after reading these tweets then during all of the coverage of George Zimmerman slaying of Trayvon Martin. I guess it is because the Martin case seems like a relic of mid-20th century hatred, something that the perpetrator of the hate would want to keep out of the eye of the mainstream. These tweets however were sent with the knowledge that they belong to the world once sent. These tweets are keenly disgusting because the writers didn’t believe that they needed to hide their biases.

So I guess you can conclude that I don’t believe America is a post-racial society. But the bigger question is: Will America ever shake off its storied history of race hate? I want to believe yes, but episodes like these will have to be remembered by everyone involved for real momentum to ever occur.