DMX has made a robust name for himself over the years. His sales of more than 30 million records worldwide have burnished him as one of the most successful and most influential voices in hip hop. All of that makes his decision to engage in a boxing match with George Zimmerman particularly perplexing and disappointing.
Why is this farce of a boxing match even being considered? First let’s look at this from Zimmerman’s point of view. The man who shot and killed an unarmed, teenaged Trayvon Martin was acquitted of second-degree murder charges. But that didn’t stop his legal troubles. He has since had more than a couple skirmishes with the law, principally relating to abusive behavior toward his ex-wife and, later, his new girlfriend.
With the Trayvon killing as an international news story and accusations of belligerent and abusive behavior forming a disturbing narrative after the trial, Zimmerman isn’t exactly the kind of guy who can walk into the office of a potential employer and reasonably expect an easy time getting a job. He says he will donate some of the proceeds to charity, but won't say how much that might be.
His legal fees, already mountainous, have not gotten any better since the trial. He needs money and lots of it. A so-called celebrity boxing match is as good a method of coming up with desperately needed cash as any.
What is especially disconcerting is why DMX – or any self-respecting American – would agree to participate in a publicity stunt with a man who is not a celebrity but rather an international symbol of the dreadful, nightmarish lengths of racial profiling. Of course, the rapper has had his own series of legal troubles and lawyers are expensive for him, too.
However, to many Americans, not all of them Black and brown, George Zimmerman evokes the horrific images of young Black men – from Emmett Till to the Freedom Riders – who have been cut off even before their prime because of racial hostility.
This match would offer a platform to a man who seeks to gain a certain level of legitimacy. Indeed, Zimmerman seeks to bill himself as a celebrity as though he were some beloved entertainer. In fact, he is one of the most controversial, distressing figures of this era of American history.
Already, social media has started to produce petitions urging DMX to reconsider this ill-advised bit of unpleasant theater. One can only hope that he will consider the message that he is sending by lending his presence to such an unworthy spectacle.
So far, it seems that the terms of the prospective match have not been set, meaning the fight is not officially on. One can only hope that the rapper will come to his senses and realize that he is being lured into participating in an event that would only desecrate the memory of Trayvon Martin and, for that matter, so many young African-American men.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photos from left: WENN, Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images)