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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The crime of walking while black
Posted by Jill | 5:30 AM
I haven't posted yet about Trayvon Martin because frankly, I don't even know what to say. I don't know what to say because every time I look at the photos of a smiling kid who's now dead for the crime of carrying a can of iced tea and a bag of skittles while walking around a neighborhood in which a sloped-foreheaded asshole fancies himself to be Florida's own Sheriff Joe Arpaio, I just start to cry and I can't stop.

Oh, I'm sure that the fact that I have been working 7 days a week for the last four weeks doesn't help, nor does the fact that I can't seem to sleep more than 5-6 hours a night when I really need 7-8 hours. But it's more than that. It's thinking back to January 20, 2009, when for a couple of minutes, we envisioned this country as it could be...as it SHOULD be, one in which a man (or woman, or a 17-year-old kid) could be judged by the content of his character instead of the color of his skin. It's looking at the American landscape now, in which this country's first black president has been, and continues to be, hounded about his birth certificate by self-appointed vigilantes just like the murderer of Trayvon Williams and the police department that for some inexplicable reason is protecting him. It's looking at a country in which a candidate for president of a major political party can dogwhistle in a way that's hardly even dogwhistling, calling the current occupant of the White House "the food stamp president". It's a country in which someone can put out a bumper sticker reading "Don't Re-Nig in 2012" and insist it's not racist. I would be tempted to say that it's a good thing that the racists and hatemongers who populate this nation have felt safe in coming out from the rocks under which they live, because now we know where they stand and we can expose them, except that the life of an unarmed 17-year-old kid is too high a price to pay for a "dialogue" that isn't going to be a dialogue at all.

I have two black colleagues with whom I'm pretty close. One of them is a man in his 40's who's experienced firsthand what it's like to be pulled over for "driving while black." Another is a woman who has a teenage son. Yesterday I went to work and while the three of us talk about current events all the time, Trayvon Martin's name didn't come up at all. I don't know what my colleagues were thinking, but all I wanted to do was say, "I'm so sorry" and wonder how the heck they can even LOOK at a white person as a friend or ally today.

The sounds of Trayvon Martin screaming for help in a neighborhood, a town, a state, a nation that didn't give a shit about him echo throughout the country. They are etched into my brain and my memory for the long as I live. I will never, ever forget what I heard on those police dispatch recordings. It's a sound that could come out of any black person you know or that you don't, on any given day, just because someone believed that they didn't deserve to walk the earth because of the color of their skin. THAT is the truth about America. And that a black man emerges from the White House every day doesn't change that one iota.

A few other thoughts:

At the Crunk Feminist Collective: Re-Nigging on the Promises: #Justice4Trayvon

ThinkProgress: What Everyone Should Know About Trayvon Martin (1995-2012)

John McWhorter, The Atlantic: What a Florida Teenager’s Death Tells Us About Being Black in America

Adam Weinstein at Mother Jones: The Trayvon Martin Killing, Explained, including some interesting history about race and the Sanford Police Department.

Lawrence O'Donnell:

When Jonathan Capehart knows that he too could be targeted by racist self-appointed "Neighborhood Watch" gun nuts for the crime of walking while black, it's time to stop deluding ourselves that we are "past all that." We aren't. And unless people like George Zimmerman face the full brunt of the law and there is UNIVERSAL outrage about what happened to Trayvon Martin, and what could happen to any black man anywhere in this country, we won't be. And it is to our shame that we aren't.

Also, this.

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Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...
Thank you Jeb Bush, the NRA, and violently stupid gun-nuts for making Florida an unsafe place.

Hey, what's theta guy doing running over there?!? BLAM!

Oh he was jogging? Oops I felt unsafe and Stood my Ground!

Hey why is that guy walking around my neighbor hood with his hands in his pockets? BLAM!

Oh he was reaching for a cell phone? Oops, I felt unsafe and Stood My Ground!

Hey, why's that guy walking towards my car in the parking lot?!? BLAM!

Oh, it's his car and just looks like mine? Oops, I felt unsafe and Stood My Ground!

To Hell with all you Republicans!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Great. These law-n-order, meathead macho NRA types promulgate laws which make it easier to commit crimes..to literally get away with murder.

I guess it shows just how stupid these people are, and how Joe-the Plumber style stupidity is coming to dominate this country. Looks like the Dumbing Down is almost complete.

But hey, I'm sure these people are happy--they can use their guns on real live people and get away with it--which I'm sure has been the fantasy of many of these "gun rights" types.

Blogger Buffy said...
That whole situation makes me sick. Like you, I'm stunned to the point I don't even know what to say.

Blogger Bob said...
In the one photo released of him, George Zimmerman hardly looks like a model of Caucasian purity, even if there existed such a creature. But there doesn't, because "race" isn't a scientific concept. There are no genetic determinants. The term "idiot" has also been retired from scientific usage, but it ought to be restored for guys like Zimmerman.