I saw 42,
the movie about Jackie Robinson, for the first time last night. And in
the scene where Robinson gets to Florida for the first time just before
spring training where he tries out for the Montreal Monarchs, Sanford is
mentioned. Sanford, in real life, is where Branch Rickey had situated
Robinson, specifically in the home of an African American community
leader and when Sanford was mentioned for the first time, exactly 72
hours after the verdict came in, klaxxon alarms, understandably, began
ringing in my head.
Of course, the
filmmakers couldn't have possibly have known Sanford would have much
more than a historical significance. Odds are 42 was filmed after
the Trayvon Martin shooting but at the time it's plausible to assume
the filmmakers were more concerned with their craft or were unaware of
the highly polarized George Zimmerman shooting and the current notoriety
or infamy it would revisit on Sanford.
The historical record of 1947 is quite clear. While Mr. Robinson was taking
the first tentative steps toward breaking MLB's color barrier, residents
in Sanford were relaying unmistakable messages to both Robinson and his
host that the residents didn't appreciate him rocking the boat and
living in their town. Eventually, Robinson had to be whisked out of
Sanford in the dead of night after being warned that some (obviously
white) angry residents were on their way to express their displeasure (At this point, I actually muttered to myself, "And one of them is George Zimmerman.").
The racist backlash was so toxic the Brooklyn Dodgers had to relocate
the site of their spring training facility to some place less polarized
(no mean feat, considering this is postwar Florida we're talking about).
Juror #B37 made it plain on Anderson Cooper 360
last Monday that she is a supremely ignorant and stupendously racist
woman who is so clueless and lives such a hermetic existence she's not
even aware of her own racism. Being a racist in today's "enlightened"
America is like being a carrier of a virulent, communicable disease.
You're infected with this highly infectious disease, are certainly in a
position to give it to others yet you yourself are not afflicted with
any of the classic symptoms (such as riding through black neighborhoods
in the dead of night wearing white robes and hoods and burning crosses
on front yards) and are, therefore, comfortably assuming you are
But President Obama's historic election and reelection have proven us anything but
post-racial. Gun and ammo sales, as we now know, have skyrocketed after
the last two Super Tuesdays partly due to white James Earl Ray
fantasies and partly in response to NRA and right wing propaganda that
Obama wants to take away all their guns.
And Barack Obama is in a unique position to bring national attention to
the reverse kangaroo court of a ruling that sprung a murderer. Barack
Obama is not only our only president but he's also the nation's first
African American president. When Prof. Henry Louis Gates was arrested in
Cambridge, Massachusetts before his house four years ago yesterday for
the crime of trying to enter his home while black, it was the result of
white overreach and law enforcement mission creep that turned a
ridiculous case of white suburban paranoia and/or mistaken identity into
a major civil rights violation on the person of who is arguably the
most distinguished African American professor in the United States.
Still, no one was hurt and Prof. Gates was eventually released after
being charged with contempt of cop yet Barack Obama had no problem
elevating this travesty to the presidential level by calling the
Cambridge Police Department's actions (or reactions) "stupid." He
elevated it yet another level by inviting the racist white cop who'd
arrested Gates and Prof. Gates himself for a beer with himself and Vice
President Biden, as if a black man and a white man having a beer in a
tightly secure and controlled environment would cure America of racism.
George Zimmerman, and countless others, have since proven that, to
paraphrase the old beer slogan, "Out of the darkness comes more darkness
and, in it, the things we ignore and fear will be there."
Such as our fear of being racists despite our best and most carefully
constructed delusions. And it boggles the mind why the President felt
the need to get personally involved with an incident that, while
certainly egregious and unforgivably disrespectful to Prof. Gates,
involved no death and no spilling of blood while remaining saturnine
over the entire Zimmerman trial and bad joke of a verdict in which an
innocent African American boy two weeks past his 17th birthday was
gunned down as if he was a rabid dog.
In short, why didn't Obama play the race card when he could've done so
much more effectively than he had in the wake of the Gates incident?
True, his Justice Department, whether at the President's behest or not,
is revisiting the Zimmerman verdict and are investigating whether
Zimmerman can be tried on federal civil rights charges that
theoretically could involve the death penalty. But it's not the same
thing as the President lamely saying, "The jury has spoken, justice has
been served, blah blah blah."
The Potential Gangbanger is in the Grass
To revisit Juror B37 for a few minutes, her comments on Anderson Cooper's show (links to both halves here
on CNN left many laymen and even legal minds scratching their heads
wondering how such a shockingly idiotic and willfully ignorant woman got
on the jury. In fact, some have openly speculated the prosecution
deliberately took a dive like a punch drunk club fighter with mob
creditors. Each side had six preemptory challenges to use among the
dozens of jurors they'd interviewed during the voire dire
process. Yet, a careful auditing of Juror B37's answers to the questions
revealed how woefully insufficient this woman was to assume the burden
of jury duty in a murder trial. She displayed a hostility to the press
(which apparently didn't extend to CNN in the interests of publicizing
her unwritten book that, amazingly, got her a literary agent mere hours
after the verdict), a willful ignorance bordering on the prideful and an
inability to distinguish a rally from an actual riot in her own town.
Indeed, if Juror B37 didn't merit a preemptory challenge, that may speak
volumes of the unfitness of the others who were
On Cooper's show, she even showed an ongoing ignorance despite being
privy to many of the facts of the case made known only to her fellow
jurors and the litigants. Yet, despite this level of disclosure, she
still insists the Sanford police dispatcher told Zimmerman to leave his
SUV and pursue Martin when in fact the opposite was said. She still, to
this day, believes Trayvon Martin was shot late at night and more than
hinted he brought on his own murder by walking around a strange
neighborhood at night when blacks should know better. Sanford is a
sundown town and always will be one and that's just the way it is and
the way it always should be to Juror B37. (Fact: Zimmerman began
stalking Martin around 7 PM, not late at night, not that the hour
should've made any difference.) Keep in mind, this is a woman who
imagined phantom riots by uppity blacks yet was disturbingly undisturbed
over the killing of a black boy so young just down the street.
Furthermore, she seemed blithely undisturbed by the massive holes in
Zimmerman's story, not the least of which was Martin hiding in the
bushes and rushing him (a quick peek at the crime scene photos
shown to all the jurors just before their deliberations plainly reveals
no such bushes exist in that part of the gated community). To add
insult to injury, she even told Cooper she'd be happy to have Zimmerman doing her own neighborhood watch
It's hard to believe anyone could become a fan of George Zimmerman
after just a couple of weeks at close quarters with the man but to
believe one could be so pro-Zimmerman after that space of time more
strongly suggests a preexisting bias that wasn't admitted to during the voire dire
And, the very fact she reached out to literary agent Sharlene Martin
within hours of the verdict indisputably proved her first instinct was
not to get on with her life or even resume the tending of her precious
rescue birds but making a quick buck off of Trayvon Martin's death, a
get-rich-quick scheme which her execrable and shockingly unscrupulous literary agent
for all of a day was only too glad, willing, ready and able to realize
(and which the MSM was only happy to assist in by breathlessly reporting
on a non-existent book deal for the 14 hours the story was still
And now the Bird Lady of Sanford is becoming so
reviled and ridiculed, Twitter users can justifiably pat themselves on
the back for scuttling this book project before a word had ever been
written (Where, O where was the Blue Bird of Public Opinion before The Bridges of Madison County
and Brad Thor?). And a letter has been drafted and circulated
by four of the five other jurors publicly distancing themselves from B37 and her odious comments.
As always, those interested in justice, the people at the grass roots
level, are right and the authorities are wrong. As John Oliver said on
the Daily Show
recently, the problem was not that the system in Florida was broken but
that the system as crafted by right wingers and ALEC worked perfectly
for Zimmerman and against Martin. The only people at the grass roots
level that are wrong about this are the right wingers who have nothing
at stake and have no business getting involved other than the President
briefly mentioning the case and that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon
If there's anything that scares white people, it's black people getting
organized and mobilized (or, in the mindset of Juror B37, "rioting.").
Selma and Birmingham in the mid-60's proved that.
Otherwise, Presidents Obama and Jimmy Carter
, both Democrats, failed Trayvon Martin. The half-assed and half-hearted prosecution
failed Trayvon Martin. The mainstream media
failed Trayvon Martin. And, lastly, while those of us opposed to racial bigotry are on the side of the angels on this one, we also failed
Trayvon Martin for making it possible for racist lunatics such as George
Zimmerman to get his hands on a gun and to use it to murder with impunity an innocent child armed with nothing more dangerous than processed sugar.