What the Trayvon Martin Verdict could have been for America


LOLGOP ‏@LOLGOP2h The same people who keep reminding us George Zimmerman wasn’t convicted seem to think that Trayvon Martin was.

– read this on my twitter feed today

Hooded Figure B

During the Trayvon Martin trial I could tell who was being Prosecuted George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin. The Zimmerman defense team has done a great job depicting George Zimmerman as the victim not only to the jury but to the American public. AS far as I know Trayvon martin, the unarmed 17 year old African American child was never convicted of a crime by a jury, but over the course of the trail Trayvon was a thug, a soon to be arms dealer, drug dealer. You also couldn’t tell from his pictures  but he was one of the world’s most dangerous 17 year old, even unarmed he could strike fear into the heart of an armed adult who ignore police suggestions to confront Trayvon.

Unfortunately at this moment almost an exact week from the not guilty verdict, there is no discussion or debate. What we have is a shouting match. Some people like Anne Coulter cried Hallelujah when the verdict was announced. Rush Limbaugh said the verdict has given him the right to use the word nigger in common day parlance.  Cries of white privilege, racial bias and discrimination are ignored, and silence by the same argument:

  1. People who disagree with the verdict are un-American.
  2.  Blacks, or at least the ones who do not believe that George Zimmerman should have been acquitted, those who dared to talk of the existence of racial bias in this country and the continued existence of racism, were lazy, ignorant of the facts of the trial, and refuse to take accountability for not only their action but for those for their race at large.

I saw for myself on Twitter today that for many more people that I imagined it is easier to dismiss the issue that affects a significant percentage of the population as horse=shit than to even entertain the thought for a second that there could be a reason why people are taking to the streets through major cities in the United States. It would not strike me as odd at all if these were the same people who brushed off the Marches for Abner Louima, for Amadou Diallo, or for the calls to end the stop and frisk program in NYC or to call into the question the militarization of the police around the nation, and of course the crown jewel of capitalism the prison Industrial complex.

Catching the Thread

Last week I read a few blog post on How Great a Nation is that ignored the history of the people that didn’t inhabit the same racial or socio-economic bracket. I was angered by the gratuitous use of the word “we”, I was quick to point out that the “we” the way it was used didn’t represent African Americans, Native Americans, certain parts of this country’s Asian American or Hispanic demographic.

When the truth is determined solely by the loudness and ascerbicity of one’s argument democracy is threatened.  According to the post-modernist thinker Jean Baudrillard the real is produced from miniaturized cells, matrices, and memory banks, models of control — and it can be reproduced an indefinite number of times from these. It no longer needs to be rational, because it no longer measures itself against either an ideal or negative instance. It is no longer anything but operational.

downloadLet me give you an example. The Yale Political Quarterly published an article by Stephen Balkaran called “Mass Media and Racism. He asserts that as media have played and will continue to play a crucial role in the way white Americans perceive African-Americans. As a result of the overwhelming media focus on crime, drug use, gang violence, and other forms of anti-social behavior among African-Americans, the media have fostered a distorted and pernicious public perception of African-Americans. The history of African-Americans is a centuries old struggle against oppression and discrimination. The media have played a key role in perpetuating the effects of this historical oppression and in contributing to African-Americans’ continuing status as second-class citizens.

Talking about the media, there is unfortunately more to be said: Many of these negative [African American]stereotypes spill over into news media portrayals of minorities. Scholars agree that news stereotypes of people of color are pervasive (e.g., Dates & Barlow, 1993; Martindale, 1990; Collins, 2004; Poindexter, Smith, & Heider, 2003; Rowley, 2003; West, 2001). For instance, Entman (2000) found that African Americans were more likely to appear as perpetrators in drug and violent crime stories on network news. In the 1980s and 1990s, stereotypes of black men shifted and the primary images were of drug lords, crack victims, the underclass, the homeless, and subway muggers (Drummond, 1990). Similarly, Douglas (1995), who looked at O. J. Simpson, Louis Farrakhan, and the Million Man March, found that media placed African-American men on a spectrum of good versus evil.

watermThis begs the question as guilty as George Zimmerman is for the death of Trayvon Martin how much of a role did society’s mass media  portrayals play a role in Zimmerman viewing Trayvon as thug? Negative stereotype of African Americans have existed in this country since its inception and beyond. In his book Home and Exile Chinua Achebe writes very beautifully about the narrative that the European told themselves to justify slavery, the exploitation and subjugation of other peoples. Achebe says on page 28, in Home and Exile: As early as the 1700’s British trade in Africa had shifted entirely to slaves. Basil Davidson makes the point that by this time “men in Europe were accustomed to seeing Africans only in chains, captives without power. The belief in African inferiority was already in full bloom. But the eighteenth century did more than habituate Europeans to the spectacle of Africans as “men in chains” it also presented an abundance of literature tailored to explain or justify that spectacle.” A writer of that time (Dalzel) prefaced his book with an apologia for slavery: Whatever evils the slave trade may be attended with … it is mercy to poor wretches, who … would otherwise suffer from the butcher’s knife.

The complexity of the Situation

So many years of propaganda do not die over night. My father was a teenager during the Civil Rights movement. My generation has inherited much from the workings of the previous two generations. I have felt that this inheritance required me to sit down and think for a long time on how to best use this inheritance.

download (1)The best way to honor this inheritance for me is to expose its complexity. We cannot talk about racial bias in the United States without talking about the economic policies that disenfranchise many Americans. We must talk about immigration, and sexual discrimination. My generation was the generation that experience interconnectedness through the internet and other technologies in ways that other generations could no dream of. It is my belief that we should speak not only for the causes we each are affected by, but we should show how deeply related n our social ills have become. The Trayvon Martin case could have been a spring board to discuss gun control, racism, drug use and legislation, racial identity, law enforcement policies, inhumane laws like the stand your own ground law in Florida that sentences a black women who fired warning shots to keep an abusive husband at bay (no one was harmed) to 20 years while letting George Zimmerman go free. This trial was a wakeup call about our nation’s health that we failed to address.

Stay tuned for part 2, tomorrow

Dave

 

8 thoughts on “What the Trayvon Martin Verdict could have been for America

  1. I would like to put in my two cents worth. The fact that Treyvon or any other 17 year old person was shot and killed is truly a tragedy. Do I think that George should have been convicted of manslaughter. However, Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law obscures at least in part the definition where by which manslaughter convictions cab be handed down because it at it allows an opportunity to use deadly force while lacking clearly defined guidelines for when its appropriate. Why is this? Because it is the job of the courts to evaluate cases in which the law is evoked and provide an interpretation that may or may not be adopted either as a whole or in part as the courts official interpretation of the law. Sadly Florida’s law “Stand Your Ground” is lacking in such interpretations and therefore is open to the risk of bad judgments. I think that George would not have been found guilty of the Murder 2 charge in most other states as well, but I do think that had it been tried outside of Florida he would have been convicted on manslaughter, not involuntary manslaughter but manslaughter there is a difference. I don’t think he went out with the intent to kill someone but he did choose to carry a gun and he also chose to not receive proper training in using it in self defense and because of which someone died needlessly.
    That said…
    I personally find in the aftermath of this tragedy the actions of people on both sides of the this issue to be appalling. Anyone dumb enough to listen to the Queen of Oxycontin (Limbaugh) and Anne Coulter and take what they say as fact are truly misguided individuals. The right-wing with all of its self-importance and belief that it speaks for the majority of people is wrong and I could go endlessly siting cases of their hating, baiting, and most importantly their hypocrisy, but that’s a story for another day.
    Those who seek to label this as another example of white vs black racism. I don’t see that either. I’ve always believed the “Whites” referred to those of European descent that were devoid of mixed heritage with races that fall into categories of minorities. George’s mother is Peruvian and because of that George both through his mother and his own Latino features has had to have at times been the victim of racist attitudes and the victim of racist actions. I would think and maybe I’m wrong, but based on his own life experiences one would think he should have some sympathy towards others who would find themselves victims of similar archaic and incorrect attitudes. Perhaps I’m mistaken but I don’t group Latinos in with other whites when it comes to the “us vs them” racial issues, but then again I don’t think in the “us vs them” mentality that polarizes people into the different camps. I try to live by the idea of judging people by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin…

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  2. My dear Suga …. this is a sad time in the history of America!! When was it ever a happy time? Can’t seem to recall any … there has always been this terrible undercurrent: black, Hispanic, oriental, Asian, Japanese …… THEY always feel threatened!! There are more of us and THEY are on the decline. We are taking over and they are “fighting” dirty!! A time will come …. in my lifetime, I hope! But … not holding my breath!

    Reblog: http://hrexach.wordpress.com/

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  3. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Callous, ignorant, close-minded, threatened!! Plain WRONG!!
    “What we have is a shouting match. Some people like Anne Coulter cried Hallelujah when the verdict was announced. Rush Limbaugh said the verdict has given him the right to use the word nigger in common day parlance. Cries of white privilege, racial bias and discrimination are ignored, and silence by the same argument:”
    Read on …..

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  4. This is what happens when a liberal biased society teaches that every minority, race, religion, or sexual orientation, is victimized. Once upon a time a boy cried wolf & nobody listened. That’s where we are heading now. This is far from the greatest generation this country has ever been. It’s time to look back at what that generation did correctly, & then reverse the poor decisions made since then to get the USA back to the great & respected country it once was.

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    1. I feel you on how we have to retrace our steps and try to reverse the poor decisions. The cry wolf thing is very fitting. I would like to see the USa become a respected country. I don’t think we have ever reached that status given the number of wars, the domestic and well as international violence we have wrought etc

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