Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gunshots in Sanford!

When news of the Trayvon Martin case first broke, there was only one thing that gave me first impression, and it's the impression that has not changed since.

George Zimmerman, who I feel began his vigilante ways with modestly honest intentions, took the law into his own hands, and he ended a young man's life. Fortunately, Mr. Zimmerman, now under arrest for second-degree murder, was very wrong that the so-called "Stand Your Ground" law was going to absolve him of his responsibility. It's his lack of responsibility, and some of White (and Black, and other races) America's lack of understanding of such, that's quite baffling.

I don't know too much about Trayon or George other than what CNN reported; I watched as much I could take, and about a week or so or go, I tuned out the daily inundation. What I do know is confirmed by eyewitnesses, Trayvon's phone call before the event, and Mr. Zimmerman's statement from the scene. In a nutshell, operating on what he thought was a good intention, George approached Trayvon (after being told by 911 not to do so), some words were exchanged, there was an altercation, and George killed Trayvon. What's being tried in the court of public opinion varies based on your convictions. Some people, because Trayvon is Black, and George is Hispanic (or, essentially, NOT Black), that this was a premeditated hate crime. Some feel, and, in my opinion based on their own fear and prejudice, that Mr. Zimmerman was well within his rights (inherent or otherwise) to defend himself and the neighborhood. Some actually don't care that he killed Trayon, or that two parents lost their young son, they just feel like, because the two parties are different races, that, by sheer default, it should just go away because of some perceived Black favoritism.

I promise that I am attempting to remain objective, but in typing that last sentence, I felt offended just recalling some of the opinions I've heard about all of this. But keeping on point, I am sad that two parents had to bury their son. Furthermore, I hate that Mr. Zimmerman had to endure a public trial before an official one because, even though I support his incarceration, I do not at all agree that we get to threaten him, his family or tweet his address (really, Spike Lee? C'mon Son!) I do not agree that this was a hate crime. I am quite often a supporter of the continuing body of work of both Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton, but this was as isolated of an incident as it could be with a gun-toting vigilante vs. an archetype "threatening Black male" silhouette. I don't agree that Mr. Zimmerman is a racist, but that's the problem that continues show itself in this Obama-era in which we live.

Some (probably less that 10% to my estimation) White people don't like other races, and even though, collectively, non-White people have much more abundant and significant contributions to humanity, it's this "Terrible Tenth" that continues to use power, influence and hate to perpetuate myths about non-White people. But they are never going to change, so I won't even waste time discussing their issues. What's troubling to me, is the number of White people, and alarming amount of Black people, who always, and unapologetically, play devil's advocate when white- (or other non-Black) on-Black crime takes place. {NOTE: Black on Black crime is still an issue, not nearly as popular in the media as it once was; a completely separate issue that will appear in another blog}. What's been lost in an era of 24 hour news cycles, text updates and a constant thirst for newness is the history behind certain things. Even my beloved go-to news network, CNN, is very guilty of giving loose interpretations of historical events just to fit whatever story there's selling at the time (Jeanne Moos' career appears to be based on this doctrine; I love her still). Black people don't have a happy track record in this nation, or for that matter, in this hemisphere. What is absolutely missing from K-12 classrooms is the fact of what the impact of slavery, Reconstruction-era bigotry (the first police were created solely to suppress Blacks), Jim Crow, Civil Rights era struggles, the introduction of crack cocaine, the introduction of gangsta rap music (hey, I love Dr. Dre's beats, but he's a godfather of a genre of music that has helped hold Blacks back...more on that in another blog). But, whenever modestly educated Blacks like myself attempt to draw the connection between what my great-great grandfather endured and passed down to me genetically, the naysayers toss up their hands! See, our current generation is all about self-resolve and this wildly inaccurate assumptions that everyone has the same access and opportunities as others. I can't spend this entire post railing about those absurdities, but I will tell you that people who don't understand why some Black people would be upset that a grown man, of any race, would not be at the very least charged for provoking an altercation in which he kills an unarmed teenager is beyond ludicrous! If he was Black, to directly answer Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and other bigots like them, this would be a non-issue. Because the rate of incarceration for Blacks far exceeds that of any other race, a Black shooter would have already been on trial for murder, if not 1st degree! And let's stick with those stats for a moment. Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and other misinformed people, are quick to point out the incarceration rates for minorities. What's missing from the mouths of those who'd quote and publicize those stats is the number of cases where due process was not carried out, where DNA was mishandled (The state of North Carolina's SBI department scandal is the biggest so far....) or cases like the one where an attorney purposely lied to potential defense team witnesses to delay them entering a courtroom until a guilty plea was reached (Google it!).

I'm glad Mr. Zimmerman was arrested. I don't agree with 2nd-degree murder. Voluntary manslaughter, yes -- murder, no. However, I hope this case will shed lights on bad laws that need changing and encourage non-White people to educate our children of the sadness of reality. The "Terrible Tenth" has infected many other people, and whereas most don't hate non-Whites, they are convinced that minorities are what the movies and TV and music and blogs say we are. We have to be different. We have to get education, in the classroom and in independent research because schools don't tell the whole story. We have to force our youth to understand that sagging pants and bandanas aren't going to cut it, and they should take more pride in their appearance. We must also stand without flinching when public opinion tries to convince us that taking a stand against even perceived racism is predictable, defeated behavior.

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