Toward justice for Trayvon Martin — and for all children

President Barack Obama was asked about the slaying of Trayvon Martin today during an unrelated press conference. Obama chose his words carefully due to the ongoing Justice Department investigation, but he concluded by saying this:

My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and that we’re going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.

That third sentence is the sort of thing presidents and politicians always say, and it usually seems a bit hollow given that we already know what lurks down there at “the bottom of exactly what happened.” But the truth and honesty of Obama’s second sentence leads me to entertain the hope that it might mean something more than it usually does here. He’s speaking as a parent — as the parent of black children in America and as one who has just been reminded, yet again, that it seems impossible as a parent to protect black children from America.

That anguished and anguishing reminder to the parents of these American children has been the subject of many of the most powerful recent responses to the killing of Trayvon Martin. I’ve excerpted a handful of these below, but be sure to follow the links and read them in their entirety.

Danielle Belton: “On the Killing of Trayvon Martin and Being ‘Good’

That if we’re just “good” we’ll be safe. If your son doesn’t listen to hip hop, goes to the church camp, gets A’s and Bs in school, is polite, says “sir” and “ma’am,” if he’s a good kid, he’ll be safe. That’s the bargain black parents make with their children.

If you are “good” the gangs and the violence and the racism won’t get you. You will be safe. You will live to see 25. You will have a great life. Opportunity will abound for you. We will be proud of you. The community will be proud of you. You will be Barack Obama and Michelle Obama and life will be beautiful if you just want it enough.

Just be “good.” Be good, Trayvon Martin. Stay in school. Listen to your parents. And you’ll be safe.

But that’s a lie. No one can make you safe. No one can save you for that day some sick person just decides you’re the bad guy because you’re black and carrying a bottle of ice tea and some Skittles and he self-appointed himself neighborhood watch and some black teenage boys aren’t good, therefore ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE NOT GOOD. And you are a black person. And you’re a boy. And you had on a “hooded sweatshirt.” So, you’re dead now.

You lose.

Sorry. You didn’t follow the rules. It wasn’t good enough to be “good.” Why didn’t you just apologize to that man for existing as he had you on the ground, gun pointed at you? Say you were sorry for being born black and apologize for all the black people in the past who may have ever thought of robbing that neighborhood or doing whatever things George Zimmerman, 28, thought black people in Sanford, Fla. were doing in his neighborhood.

Lisa Sharon Harper: “Lament for Trayvon Martin and Black Boys Everywhere

Yesterday, I found myself thinking of all my nephews. They are so beautiful, such good boys and regal young men. They love to laugh with each other. They never miss a family gathering. And they love living. I thought to myself, “Where can my sisters and cousins go to protect them?”

This was not a hypothetical question. It was real. I thought about it: in cities my nephews are more likely to be the targets of black-on-black crime or police brutality. In suburbs they are more likely to be targets of white-on-black crime. What about a gated community? People live there to feel safe. But, oh … that’s where Trayvon was.

Black men are targets everywhere — everywhere.

Enuma Okoro: “When You Can’t Find Your Words

I haven’t written much about the death of Trayvon Martin because I cannot find my words, appropriate words, enough words, redeeming words, resurrecting words. I cannot find any words that could breathe any modicum of life into the death of this child. I listen to and welcome the words of others, of anger and the clarion calls for justice. I listen and I receive them because they are justified. But all I am able to speak to at this point is of deep sadness and burrowing sorrow. For now.

Janice D’Arcy: “Trayvon Martin’s shooting: The ‘rules’ African American parents follow

3. Know who you are. You can’t do everything they do. In other words, just because your white friend does something that doesn’t mean you can do the same. Whether it’s hanging at the mall or going to a house party, police, teachers, and other authorities treat white children differently than black children. …

Jesse Taylor: “A Young Black Man, Being Late

There’s a reason that Trayvon Martin’s story hits me so hard. When you’re thirteen and threatened with a bullet through the chest for getting your braces tightened, it teaches you how the world works, and does it in a hurry.

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Tonio

    Because of my skin color, that’s a horrific experience I’ll never be able to truly understand. I imagine black parents having the urge to let the crime fit the punishment and to wage total warfare on all white-dominated institutions. Rather than seeing their sons slowly ground to bits by a system that resents their very existence, are the parents ever tempted to meet violence with violence? Would the black community prefer dying on its feet to living on its knees? As much as I abhor violence, I’m not in a position to tell blacks that they should squelch such feelings if they have them.

  • Daughter

    I have avoided letting my daughter hear anything about this case. I read about it and want to cry. Because at almost 7, she already knows racism exists. She already knows that blacks were once slaves in this country, and even after they were freed, in many places they couldn’t vote, or go to school or live where they wanted, and were often subject to violence. And she has asked me, “Do you think white people would ever do something like that to black people again?” And I have reassured her that no, enough people today know it is wrong and won’t let it happen again. And I want her to believe that.

  • Guest

    Tell her the truth. Tell her it still happens today, just in different forms and that the general public (aka white people) won’t admit exists. Tell her about white privilege.

    Teach her not to feel guilty or hopeless. Teach her not to sweep racism under the rug or act as if it is no longer a factor in the USA today. Teach her how to recognize privilege, how to educate herself and think critically about systematic oppression, and to love and respect blacks and all other racial minorities. Teach her that racial minorities and allies who truly stand with them can change the world for the better.

    If you don’t, then what’s to stop her from growing up to be scared of “suspicious” black men wherever she goes? What’s to stop her from siding with the police, politicians, vigilantes, and other forms of power instead of siding with the oppressed? What’s to stop her from posting a bunch of crap about living in a post-racial society while a family grieves for their lost son and thousands of others must worry that one of their sons could be next? What’s to stop her from being one of the people whom her descendents in a fairer USA will look back on in horror?

  • Daughter

    We are African-American. When my daughter asks that question, she wants to know, Can this one day happen to her? And at this point in her life, I’m not sure I want her to know the answer is “yes.”

  • Guest

    D’oh. I apologize. I effed up by assuming you were white. I’m sorry I let my white privilege and arrogance get in the way of seeing you for who you are and increasing the burden of oppression on you. I can’t fully imagine what Trayvon’s death and the lack of reaction from the legal system means for you and your family. Do what is best for you and your daughter. Again, I apologize.

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    Oh, then I definitely feel like an ass… Forgive me.

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    Daughter, 

    I feel you. My own daughter is soundly sleeping in the other room right now. She goes to school with and plays almost exclusively with children of color. And she’s four, so she hasn’t found out about racism. And she’s blond, with blue eyes (and a Puerto Rican great grandmother she hasn’t seen in a long time).

    But I don’t want to lie to her. Not just to or for her, but it’d be lying about the experiences that her friends and neighbors go through as well, and that she, because of the color of her skin and the way she looks yet also because of the position and place she lives, will be exempt from as about half of her community will be subject to. 

    I know this is kind of an asshole thing for me to say. I don’t want to presume to tell you how to raise your child. I’m writing this out now as a promise to myself that that’s what I will have to do at that bridge.

  • Anonymous

     This, so much.  As a little girl, I was allowed to play with white children of both sexes and with black girls.  But my mother was always very upset if I played with little black boys, and she never would tell me why.

    Now, I know why.  And that knowledge, in and of itself, hurts.  I don’t like thinking of my mother as a racist.  She’s a teacher.  She teaches black students, grades them fairly, and several of her favorite students over the years have been black.  But somehow, “Never let a white girl play with a black boy” got engrained in her mind.

  • Anonymous

    I do not want to think of Trayvon Martin as being a black boy shot & killed by a white man.  I just want to think of him as a boy shot and killed by a man.  This may sound odd or wrong or improper, some how not the right way to take this child’s death but it is the only way I can do honor to Trayvon and his tragic death.  To just see him as another boy who was killed when there was no good reason.  It is not good enough, not nearly good enough, but it is all I can do here, right now.  It is a place to start, not a place to end in honoring this boy and his family.  So please let us, as christians do more as the Good Lord gives us the opportunities.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

    IMO, the best way to honor him is to make sure something like it doesn’t happen again. The best way to do that is to try and understand the underlying causes. One of those underlying causes is race.

  • Kartoffelbreir

    That’s a respectable POV

  • JessicaR

    Don’t try to concern troll folks out of talking about the key factor race played in this. If George Zimmerman had shot a white child he’d be in jail right now. And if George Zimmerman was black and Trayvon Martin was white, Zimmerman wouldn’t have survived long enough for the cops to arrive and arrest him as a mob would have killed him on the spot. Our refusal to talk about race is killing us, literally.

  • Kartoffelbreir

    But Zimmerman wouldn’t have shot a white kid. 140 pounds, 17, looks like he’s 12? Nope. He’s dead ‘cuz he was black

  • Whjackson70

    George Zimmerman is just as white as our President is.  Oh – what’s that?  Our President is black?  Race is played to suit the needs of the party telling the story.  The real tragedy here is that this case will not be tried the way it should.  An overzealous cop wannabe was just itching to use his gun.  Those people are more dangerous to our neighborhoods than gangs of any color.  Stop making this a race issue.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Zimmerman identifies white and has made a habit of calling the cops on black people who weren’t doing anything, including a kid about ten years younger than Trayvon. Zimmerman’s the one who made this a race issue.

  • LL

    Yeah, y’all, don’t go to any news-type website and read comments about this story. It’ll make you weep for what was supposed to be the promise of America. 

    I also think that the racial thing is a giant distraction. I’m not surprised that it is, but to me, emphasizing the race is taking focus away from the fact that: A MAN WITH A GUN CHASED AN UNARMED PERSON THROUGH A PARKING LOT AND THEN SHOT THAT PERSON AND KILLED HIM FOR NO REASON. 

    That’s why the guy should have been arrested, at least. Not because he shot a black kid, but because he shot anybody. Wasn’t defending himself or his home (despite what he’s saying now, with absolutely no proof whatsoever, as far as I have read), just decided the kid deserved to be shot. 

  • Becca Stareyes

     The problem is two-fold: that Zimmerman could even claim ‘self-defense’ when confronting an unarmed kid because of the Stand Your Ground aspect of Florida laws is a piece of it. 

    But, if a (younger) version of me (white, female, 5’6″) had been walking home alone from a convenience store that night to her father’s place, where she was visiting — even in jeans and a hoodie — many believe believe that Zimmerman wouldn’t have found it at all suspicious.  And, if if Zimmerman had killed my clone there instead of Trayvon, many people believe that he would have been arrested at the scene. 

    That’s why you can’t take race out of the equation.  Zimmerman should have been arrested regardless of who he shot; but the fact that he wasn’t makes one inquire why. 

  • Anonymous

    If you’d actually read the links, they are saying that the “racial thing” is not a “distraction”. It’s the reason this happened. People are “emphasizing the race” because that IS the issue. Listen to Zimmerman’s 911 call (
    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/cnn-isolates-audio-on-alleged-%E2%80%98fcking-cns%E2%80%99-trayvon-martin-911-call/). Might give you a different opinion on the matter.

  • gocart mozart

    Yeah, I read comments at Fox.  Many people are scum.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t have to read the comments.  It’s gotten to where I can accurately predict what both Fox and its commenters will have to say.  My improving accuracy is HORRIBLE for my faith in humanity.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    You know what you guys? Two separate things can both be true at the same time.

    Society is shockingly racist, with racist police and a racist “justice” system. Young men, especially, are murdered for being black in the alleged land of freedom and opportunity. This is an outrage.

    US gun laws are an abomination. People are murdered every fucking day because of a bullshit belief held by many that they have an innate human right to own and use weapons of murder. This is an outrage.

    Both true, and neither needs to be de-emphasised to assert the other.

  • Kartoffelbreir

    Agreed

  • Emcee, cubed

    A MAN WITH A GUN CHASED AN UNARMED PERSON
    THROUGH A PARKING LOT AND THEN SHOT THAT PERSON AND KILLED HIM FOR NO REASON. BECAUSE HE WAS BLACK.

    Fixed that for you.

  • LL

    Eh, whatever. I get what you’re saying, I get what all of you are saying about the kid being black and now being dead, but to me, the race part of it is not the most alarming part. Obviously, I have the luxury of thinking that, since I’m a tiny white woman (not as white as Queen Elizabeth, but still pretty white). 

    And the “he shot the kid because he’s black” part will probably be difficult to prove. Assuming this gets anywhere near a courtroom. Sadly, that is in serious doubt, criminal proceeding, anyway. And if it does go to court, the killer will get something like involuntary manslaughter. A couple years, at most. And I don’t think it was involuntary at all. 

    Maybe the family can sue in civil court, but I doubt they’ll get much from him. Maybe they can sue the condo complex. Actually, that has the most chance of getting anything like “justice” here, if by justice, we mean make condo management and local law enforcement keep some sort of control over who can wander the streets and “watch” the neighborhood while toting a gun. 

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

     Eh, whatever. I get what you’re saying, I get what all of you are saying
    about the kid being black and now being dead, but to me, the race part
    of it is not the most alarming part

    “The race part” is why this boy is DEAD. What the fuck could possibly be worse? Yes, the gun laws are too lax. Yes, “Stand Your Ground” is a morally-bankrupt doctrine. But they didn’t kill Trayvon – the fact that he was black was the key factor. That’s why Zimmerman was suspicious of him, it’s why he shot him and it’s why the police could barely be bothered to even go through the motions of an investigation.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

     Obviously, I have the luxury of thinking that, since I’m a tiny white woman

    Given the number of people in this country who don’t have that luxury, it might not be wise, polite, or decent to brag about that fact.

  • Anonymous-Sam

    Given how often “woman” equates to “victim waiting to happen,” I don’t think there’s much to brag about. Different kind of discrimination, but just as much completely justified fear involved.

    But as WingedBeast said, we’re all potential victims. What purpose is there in arranging a hierarchy of who’s liable to be victimized first? Better use of our time: sending a message that we won’t tolerate being victims without a voice. Justice needs to be served. Never in a thousand years should this guy get away without at the very bloody least a second degree murder conviction, and given his history and the circumstances, I don’t think this was at all without premeditation.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

     Given how often “woman” equates to “victim waiting to happen,” I don’t
    think there’s much to brag about. Different kind of discrimination, but
    just as much completely justified fear involved.

    I never denied that women face discrimination or that they are victimized in other ways.  However, the LL faces her own problems due to the kyriarchy doesn’t make her comments any less dismissive or trivializing of the very real problems that racial minorities — including Trayvon — face on a daily basis.  And yes, I consider boldly announcing that she has the “luxury” of not worrying about such issues on a personal level rather inappropriate.  And by inappropriate, I mean cruel.

  • Anonymous-Sam

    Hmm. I accept your reasoning. I didn’t read it that way, but I can see how it could be insensitive.

  • Anonymous

     I’m not sure she’s bragging.  But then, I’m the sort who considers most “luxuries” and “privileges” to be huge liabilities.

  • P J Evans

    Yeah, Zimmerman was twice the size and twice the age of Martin, had a gun, and was so scared of him that he ignored the 911 dispatcher telling him to not chase the kid.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a small white woman, too.  I teach.

    One of my students once told me she was going to miss class the following Monday because her cousin had been murdered, and she’d have to go out-of-state for the funeral.

    To this day, I have never heard a white person even say that they KNEW someone who had been murdered.

    I’ve been uncomfortably aware of race issues in America for years. I don’t like the fact that I probably subconsciously remind my students of the villains.

  • Caravelle

    Eh, whatever. I get what you’re saying, I get what all of you are saying
    about the kid being black and now being dead, but to me, the race part
    of it is not the most alarming part.

    I’m not sure you do get what people are saying, because as far as I can tell it isn’t about one “part” being more “alarming” than another. You are right; a man ran after another one and shot him for no good reason. That is the alarming thing, the outrageous thing. Trayvon being black isn’t relevant because it makes it more alarming. It’s relevant because it’s the reason this outrageous thing happened in the first place. Getting run after and shot down is horrible for anyone. But it doesn’t happen to “anyone”, statistically speaking. Members of some groups in some situations are statistically more likely to have that happen to them.

    And that in turn affects the rest of their life in ways it won’t affect the life of members of other groups. Because while being run after and shot dead is just as horrible for black men as for white, black men have a higher expectation (in the probabilities sense) of it happening to them than white men do, and so they’ll live their lives differently from someone who doesn’t worry much about it happening to them.

    It is also important, because people running after others and shooting them to death is a Bad Thing, to figure out how to have it happen less. And insofar as racism contributes to people being run after and shot to death, it’s a cause that needs to be taken into account if you want to solve the problem.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     More than that. We say “for no good reason”, but George Zimmerman thought that “Because he’s black and wearing a hoodie” _was_ a good reason. And it appears that the cops agreed with him. And Geraldo Rivera agreed with him. It’s 2012 and “It’s reasonable to panic if you see a black kid wearing a hoodie” is something that a professional reporter seriously thought he could get away with saying in public.

    Fwiw, it looks like the language of Florida’s Castle Law was written by a conservative big business lobbying group.

  • Tricksterson

    Geraldo Rivera is still allowed to speak in public?  Why?

  • Kartoffelbreir

    Not specifically BECAUSE HE WAS BLACK, but something back in his peabrain made the black=danger connection,  to Martin’s great peril.

  • Lori

    Yeah, y’all, don’t go to any news-type website and read comments about this story. It’ll make you weep for what was supposed to be the promise of America. 

    Yeah, this story has all the creepy things crawling out from under their rocks. You don’t even have to read comments to see them either. All you have to do is watch what Fox News is putting on the air.

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/201203230002

    Ah slut-shaming, the all-purpose Right Wing answer to all crime committed against anyone who is not a rich white man. That shit just never gets old.  [I’m not sure whether an eye roll or a gagging noice belongs here]

  • JessicaR

    Race is certainly not a distraction, he decided the kid deserved to be shot because he was walking while black, period. Our unhinged gun laws, and laws like Stand Your Ground, exist because of racialized fears. Fears that The Other, the big scary black man in the hoodie, is out to get to you so it’s only fair you be allowed as many guns as you want. And that you can argue with a straight face, and have an equally racist police force agree with you, that you shot an unarmed child point blank in the chest in self defense.  

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Race is the reason Trayvon Martin is dead. Race is the reason that Zimmerman decided that the presence of an unarmed boy was an *immediate threat to his personal safety*, and it is the reason that the police decided that Zimmerman’s fear was so reasonable that he clearly acted in self-defense. You can almost hear it in the police chief’s words, as if he wants to say “Sure, as it turned out, Trayvon Martin wasn’t doing anything wrong. But he was *walking* through a *good neighborhood*. While *black*. Thinking he was an immediate threat to your personal safety such that chasing him down and shooting him was the only way you could save your own life is an obvious, honest mistake that could happen to anyone. How could anyone possibly blame him for thinkign that an umarmed child was an immediate threat to his safety?”

  • WingedBeast

    There’s already been discussion on the message to Treyvon Martin, his family, and anybody who is unfairly cast as a threat because of pigmentation level.  By not arresting Zimmerman for the murder (come on, there has to be a judge who will sign that warrent) the we, as a society have sent exactly the wrong message not only to Treyvon Martin, but also to Zimmerman.

    George Zimmerman, based on what I know, was a man with a fantasy.  It’s the fantasy that the NRA loves to use, that fantasy of having an evil bad person attack and, because you have a gun, not only defending your family, but also indulging your instinctive desire to defeat another human being without any pesky moral ambiguity.  “He attacked my family.  I defended them.  The fact that it gave me a boner to end a human life was completely beside the point.”

    The message we sent was that it’s okay to go about living out this fantasy.  Sure, you want to be that Dirty Harry character despite the fact that you don’t have the training, the restraint, the authority, or a cast of characters that exist solely for the reason of making it clear, months in advance, that there’s no moral ambiguity to endign their lives?  Go right ahead, I’m sure that there’s somebody in this world that you can convince yourself might be dangerous.  Go ahead, your own personal re-enactment of Commando is just fine, so long as there’s the thinnest of plausible deniabilities.

    Let’s make sure that the message to everybody else is clear.  Whether or not George Zimmerman chose Treyvon Martin specifically because he was black, the message this sends is to a victim pool of all human beings.  By saying that one person who looks sufficiently frightening, to the perspective of somebody who should have learned to pick up non-standard dice instead of a gun, can become a prop in someone’s fantasy, everybody who could look frightening in an occasion could become a prop in someone’s fantasy.

    People with shaved heads, beards, visible scars and/or tatoos, leather jackets, or association with non-dayglo colored motorcycles are all as readily on the list as any ethnic background.  Consider that meth is more often a rural problem than an urban problem.  So, this extends to people who are in small towns, to people who are skinny, pale, or jittery.  Consider that people who have any resemblance to George Zimmerman are now on the list, explicitly because someone who looks like him came so close to getting away with murder and still might.

    If one person can be killed as a prop in someone’s Punisher fantasy, none of us are safe.  As readily as I can say that George Zimmerman is a racist and that the racism of the PD kept him from arrest, I can also say that the message sent was that nobody gets to be safe.  Something for people to keep in mind before they post racist responses on the Fox News site.

  • Anonymous

    I will worry about numerous ways my son might get into trouble as he grows up.  But because he is white, I will not have to waste a moment worrying about whether he will be killed while innocently walking through a well-off neighborhood while carrying nothing more lethal than Skittles and soda.  Of course this is all about race.  No, it’s not a freakin’ distraction.

    My heart goes out to Trayvon’s parents.  I wish I could bear some small fraction of their pain for them, because I know their anguish must just be heartrending.

  • Daughter

    The Daily Beast has a list of the 46 911 calls George Zimmerman made over the past 2 years: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/22/george-zimmerman-s-history-of-911-calls-a-complete-log.html

    Note how few of them actually describe what might be a crime taking place. Note also how they become more racial over time (most of the late 2011 and early 2012 calls report “black male”), and how the more recent calls don’t report anything at all, other than the presence of a black male(s) somewhere in the neighborhood. (The earlier calls weren’t reports of crimes either, for the most part, but they were at least reports of something going on; e.g., loud parties, arguing neighbors).

    This report is particularly jaw-dropping:
    36.    April 22, 2011 – 7:09 p.m.

    Type: TEL

    Subject: Suspicious activity

    Report: Juvenile black male “apprx 7–9” years old, four feet tall
    “skinny build short blk hair” last seen wearing a blue t-shirt and blue
    shorts

    What on earth would a 7-9 year old, 4 foot tall kid be doing that was so suspicious Zimmerman had to call 911? Oh yeah, that’s right: he was black.

  • Anonymous

    A case like this is why we need laws against hate crimes.  This isn’t just about a man killing one boy.  He sent a very clear message to an entire group of people that no matter what you do and how well you conform and behave, you’re still at risk.  And he’s also sending a message to an entire community that they can not safely exist in certain locations.  I might even go so far as to call it terrorism, since it was intended to instill terror in an entire group of people.

    This is a tragedy for one boy and his family, but it’s also a tragedy for an entire community that will have to think twice and by hyper-vigilant when walking through that area.

  • LL

    Like I said, proving he shot the kid because the kid was black is going to be difficult. I’d settle for throwing him in prison for killing an unarmed person, regardless of the motive. But I doubt that will happen, either. I’d love to be wrong about that. I’m apprehensive that in the rush to prove what a hardcore racist this guy is, people will forget that the actual crime is, he shot an unarmed person for walking through a parking lot. I don’t really care that the person he shot is black. I care that the person he shot was unarmed and doing nothing wrong, just walking home after dark. I’m apprehensive that if this guy ever does face trial for it, the DA is going to jack up the prosecution the way they did the Casey Anthony bullshit, and this guy will walk because they can’t prove to a jury (in Florida, not the most enlightened place on earth) that the guy shot the kid because he was black. They’ll make it all about the race, and less about the crime, which is not what should happen. Because a crime WAS committed. Regardless of the race of the people involved, it should be a crime to chase someone down and then kill them, when they’ve done nothing but walk to their house. 

    I usually try to give cops the benefit of the doubt, but I find it hard to believe the cops wouldn’t have at least arrested this guy if the ethnicities had been reversed. The cops should definitely be held accountable for this gun-toting nutjob still running around loose. That’s where I’d focus the racism awareness campaign. In asking why a guy who shot an unarmed person who wasn’t doing anything to him (that can be proven) isn’t in jail right now. I don’t care quite as much about the racism of the murderer as I do about the racism of the officers who responded. If the officers had responded as most of us suspect they would have if a black guy had shot a white teenager, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. We’d feel justice was being served.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    That’s where I’d focus the racism awareness campaign.

    We can do both. That’s why Trayvon’s family called for the FBI and Justice Department to get involved and that’s why they are involved. No one is ignoring the racism of Stanford PD to focus on Zimmerman. (Although some scum are defending both)

    And as others have already pointed out, we can be pretty sure Zimmerman’s personally a racist – he called the police to report a SEVEN YEAR OLD KID AS SUSPICIOUS and literally the only thing he said what that it was a black child. If you feel the need to call the police just because a black 7 year old appears in your neighbourhood, you’re a fucking racist. [Cite: http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/03/23/george_zimmerman_s_long_lonely_war_against_black_youths_doing_things.html%5D

  • Anonymous

     Proving he shot the kid because the kid was black is going to be difficult.

    Not at all.  Show the list of 911 calls in its entirety.  Calling the cops on a 7 year old child for being black is NOT something most people would do.  You’d have to be, not just racist, but tremendously, monstrously racist.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You know, one reason I think some white people are so determined to find reasons for Trayvon to be at fault is because they know in their heart of hearts that for all their loud Alice in Wonderland professions that the law is color-blind, it really, really, isn’t.

  • Anonymous

    That, and a lot of people are so terrified of the idea that the Good Guys in law enforcement might ever be wrong, that they will bend over backwards to defend anything the police might do. See also Occupy.

  • P J Evans

    a lot of people are so terrified of the idea that the Good Guys in law enforcement might ever be wrong

    You see this in jury selection, where people say that anyone who’s arrested for anything must be guilty, or they wouldn’t have been arrested. And whatever a police officer says, as a witness, must be true, because police officer.

  • Anonymous

     In my personal experience with jury selection, a competent defender can help prevent that.  However, that entails actually having a competent defender available…

  • Matri

    I can’t help wondering how badly Zimmerman would go apeshit bonkers if he encountered a genuine neighborhood watch group composed entirely of Others.

    No offense meant to simian poo.

  • WingedBeast

    Just to add some comic relief here, I’ll correct that to “librarian poo”.

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    Yeah, race is such a distraction… for white privileged folk who don’t want to come to grips with the cost or reality of their own privilege. Cost that they don’t have to pay, because young men like Trayvon Martin are already paying for it.

  • Anonymous

    When I was taking my first educational courses, I learned that 1 in 3 African-American boys will be dead or in prison by the age of 18.

    But that’s just a number. It says nothing about reasons, nothing about why black boys are so vulnerable.

    Then you hear a story like Trayvon’s, and the statistic makes sense. Cruel, horrifying sense. And it hurts, as a comfortably middle-class white person, to realize that you are the monster.

    Black children die because of racism. What is hidden in a gang-violence scenario–what drove those kids to join gangs in the first place?–is laid bare in a case like this.

    A white man killed a boy half his size, because that boy was black. Racism is not dead, it is only better-hid.

  • rizzo

    I think anyone who shoots and kills anyone else over the possibility that they may have stolen something in the past or may in the future is a result of a sick society.  Putting the importance of your stuff over any kind of life is inexcusable, and the idea that you have the right to kill someone for taking said stuff is deranged.
    Oh yeah and that dude was a horrible racist.

  • ako

    It’s a really bad idea to ignore the racism here.  Yes, there are other factors in addition to racism.  Yes, murder is horrible whether it’s racist or not.  Yes, we’re all human beings regardless of our race.  Yes, the racism factor can be uncomfortable to think about.

    But ignoring the racism makes it harder to stop.  A lot of people think it’s perfectly reasonable to kill a black kid for such ‘crimes’ as wearing a hooded sweatshirt in public and walking around an area where rich white people live.  Some of these people are police officers.  If we keep denying the importance of racism, insisting it’s a distraction, and trying not to admit that Trayvon Martin was a black kid who was murdered for being black, we’ll keep failing to do anything about the racism behind the murder.  Horrible things will continue to happen, and we’ll do a poor job of dealing with it because we’re ignoring the elephant in the room.

  • wendy

    Let’s do a little thought experiment: 

    17-year-old skinny kid Trayvonn is walking home from the store when a guy in an SUV, a total stranger, starts following him. A guy ten years older, a few inches taller, 100 pounds heavier, the guy is staring at him and following him. Trayvonn starts walking faster because this makes him uncomfortable, the guy speeds up. Trayvonn ducks between buildings, the guy keeps following. Trayvonn starts running, because this big guy could be a mugger or a child molester or any of the other things we try to teach our kids to *GET AWAY FROM*… and the guy runs him down. 

    I would expect Trayvonn to throw a punch, to fight back with everything in him. He’s got every right in the world to defend himself from what’s clearly, to any reasonable person, a situation that gives him reason to fear for his life. He’s the one who should be allowed to take action under the Stand Your Ground law. If he had a gun, he’s the one who should feel justified in shooting this very large person who’s chasing him and threatening him. 

    Anybody want to give me odds on whether the police would bother to investigate, arrest, confiscate the gun, do a drug/alcohol test on the shooter, bring charges?

    (the people who introduced the SYG bill in the first place, who pushed for it and got it passed, they used Trayvonn’s POV in this scenario as their rationale for why such a law would be a good idea.)

  • Julian Elson

    This is interesting:

    http://youarenotyou.tumblr.com/post/19785386812/milkee-mountain-mama-i-dont-get-why-it-isnt-obvious 

    “not all of us are trayvon martin. some of us are actually george zimmerman. and maybe all the white guys in hoodies who are 44 years old and smiling need to recognize that some of us are george zimmerman. and that the US grows george zimmermans like rag weed in a post-global warming world. plentiful, hapahazardly. anywhere.
    we are not all trayvon martin, because some of us are george zimmerman. and honestly, it’s not always so dichotomous, some of us are a bit trayvon and a big george—some of us are neither—we’re the neighbors who didn’t call or who did call…but let’s just start with the most obvious one today.
    some of us are george zimmerman. some of us, whether through blood or culture are george zimmerman—and some us, many of us, know in our hearts—i could’ve been george zimmerman.”

  • Base Delta Zero

    Because of my skin color, that’s a horrific experience I’ll never be able to truly understand. I imagine black parents having the urge to let the crime fit the punishment and to wage total warfare on all white-dominated institutions. Rather than seeing their sons slowly ground to bits by a system that resents their very existence, are the parents ever tempted to meet violence with violence? Would the black community prefer dying on its feet to living on its knees? As much as I abhor violence, I’m not in a position to tell blacks that they should squelch such feelings if they have them.

    I’m… not going to say those *feelings* are wrong, but the idea is, not only morally (do onto others before they do onto you), but it’s just a bad plan.  The thing about being an oppressed minority is that you have little power.  If the group that *does* have power believes your group to be an existential threat, they will react accordingly.  The neo-nazis, the KKK et al, would like nothing more than a race war, and those ‘white dominated institutions’ include the military and police.  Maybe the feelings aren’t wrong, but if they aren’t squelched at the source, others will do it more drastically.  And even if you somehow win… now you get to be the villain.  Congratulations.Just don’t start an ethnic civil war.  It never ends well.  (And there is a reason the cold war stayed cold)

    Then you hear a story like Trayvon’s, and the statistic makes sense. Cruel, horrifying sense. And it hurts, as a comfortably middle-class white person, to realize that you are the monster.

    The fact that a pathetic excuse for a human being like Zimmerman has similarly colored skin does not make me a monster.  Guilt is not exclusive, but it is not neccesarily transferable and fractal, either.

    You see this in jury selection, where people say that anyone who’s arrested for anything must be guilty, or they wouldn’t have been arrested. And whatever a police officer says, as a witness, must be true, because police officer.

    As a law enforcement officer in ‘training’, I’d like to think that most police officers wouldn’t commit perjury, but I know better than to think there aren’t any.  And ‘anyone arrested for something must be guilty’ is just puerile… police departments/situations/officers vary in what their criteria for arrest are – some only make arrests when they’re completely sure (which still doesn’t mean they’re actually right, only that they think they are), and some will arrest you if you’re in the general vicinity of what might be a crime.

  • Tonio

    Pleas don’t read my post as an endorsement of race war. I’m suggesting instead that it maybe inevitable as long as blacks, and black men in particular, have only two options, kill or be killed. White-dominated institutions have long proven that they do not deserve any black person’s trust or loyalty. While hateful people like George Zimmerman are obviously driven by fear, there’s a possibility that the only way that blacks can ever be free of oppression is if whites are so afraid that they cower and weep at even the sight of a black person. Again, not an endorsement of that tactic, just an acknowledgment of despair and hopelessness that society can ever deem being different as morally neutral.

  • Anonymous

    blacks, and black men in particular, have only two options, kill or be killed

    I believe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would disagree. I also believe Dr. King is smarter than you. No offense meant.

  • Tonio

    None taken. I’m allowing for the possibility that he was wrong about nonviolent methods being capable of producing lasting positive change. Looking at what happened to Trayvon Martin, it’s very, very tempting to believe that MLK and Medgar Evers and all the other martyrs died for nothing. Nonviolent resistance might only work as appeals to conscience, and I doubt that George Zimmerman possesses a conscience.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    The thing about being an oppressed minority is that you have little power. If the group that *does* have power believes your group to be an existential threat, they will react accordingly. 

    This is a little facile. Power in the sense you’re talking about here is a social construct; radical changes to society can create and destroy it. It’s entirely possible for group A to have power over group B in peacetime, but still be unable to control or defeat group B if active fighting breaks out. If I’m a member of group B in that situation, I gain power by active fighting. That can make it a pragmatic choice.

    Whether it’s moral to fight in that situation is a different question, though, agreed.

    So is whether it’s moral not to fight.

  • LL

    It’s amusing that some people here think that a woman has no idea what it means to be viewed as a target or to fear being victimized. I’ve actually been robbed at gunpoint once and carjacked another time. Both times in parking lots, somewhat ironically enough. 

    Just sayin’. I don’t know if anyone is still reading this thread, but if you are, give it some thought. Or just continue to imply that I refuse to acknowledge racism or that my opinions are “cruel.” Whatever. Some people need to feel superior. Some do it by being racist, others do it by assigning motives that don’t exist to people they don’t know. 

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

     “I can’t be racist, some of my best friends are black!” is a dumb argument. “I can’t be racist, I’ve been robbed!” is just a non-sequitur.

    And no one said you have no idea what it’s like to be victimized.

  • Base Delta Zero

    While hateful people like George Zimmerman are obviously driven by fear, there’s a possibility that the only way that blacks can ever be free of oppression is if whites are so afraid that they cower and weep at even the sight of a black person.

    That’s idiotic.  Unless you have superpowers hidden somewhere, the actual result will be that whites are so afraid they open fire at the sight of a black person.  Even if you’re already in power, trying to rule by terror just ends up pissing people off.

    None taken. I’m allowing for the possibility that he was wrong about nonviolent methods being capable of producing lasting positive change. Looking at what happened to Trayvon Martin, it’s very, very tempting to believe that MLK and Medgar Evers and all the other martyrs died for nothing. Nonviolent resistance might only work as appeals to conscience, and I doubt that George Zimmerman possesses a conscience.

    Zimmerman likely possesses a conscience, just a corrupt one… but I see that point.  However, there’s no need to appeal to him.  Look at the response that has already happened… the police will yield.  They have no choice.I don’t know what exactly is with this trend of ‘Something bad has happened!  Everything has been in vain!”…

    This is a little facile. Power in the sense you’re talking about here is a social construct; radical changes to society can create and destroy it.
    … Whether it’s moral to fight in that situation is a different question, though, agreed.

    That’s privelidge.  I’m talking about hard power.  Now, it’s true that this isn’t always the case – a social ‘minority’ might be a numerical majority, or have some critical economic or material advantage.  This was arguably true prior to the Civil War, when the Southern economy depended largely on slave labor… but revolts still didn’t work.  Anyways, it’s a bit of an absurdity to discuss who will win the Racial Holy War and whether it’s moral or not, for much the same reason it’s absurd to ask the same question about global thermonuclear war: the basically guaranteed answer is ‘everyone loses’.

  • William Urmson

    This music video tells why Trayvon Martin is dead~
    http://youtu.be/OqZqGql9ml4

  • chrisalgoo

    There was no justice today.