A few years ago I was jogging in my neighborhood and two white guys in a truck sped by coming close to me. They yelled out the window, “Nigger, go back to Africa!” Amazingly enough, two weeks later I was jogging and a man in a coupe drove by and yelled out the window, “Go back to Africa you black nigger!” He slowed after he said it. I felt the rush of blood. I could not believe this had happened to me in as little as two short weeks, in my home. I can’t go back to Africa. I’m from here. I’m American!
I’m rather large, but the muscles in my legs can push rather hard. I broke out into a sprint. The car sped up. He was turning into the curve. I started to cut him off. I could see his eyes go wide with surprise as I was actually closing the distance between us. Then suddenly, I found my mind and stopped. The engine of his car roared as he sped off, leaving me to consider what would have happened if I had connected with his car, and his face. It was a dream I had, but for a moment. I am forever grateful I regained control of my senses; for I know my irrationality would have destroyed my life, and the life of my family.
When I was eighteen I was walking back to my dorm room at the University of Georgia with my computer tower under one arm and my duffel bag over my other shoulder. It was about 8:00 PM. I was tired and looking forward to getting back to my room. Suddenly, a police car stopped in front of me. The officer jumped out and pulled his gun. He pointed it at my head and told me to get down on my knees. I’ll never forget that, I recall thinking, “aren’t police officers trained to shoot center mass?” I sighed, and slowly got down on my knees, trying not to drop the precious computer my parents purchased for me. I stayed there, on my knees, for what seemed like forever. Suddenly, his radio squawked, and I heard a voice say they had caught the suspect further up Baxter Street. He was wearing jeans and a red shirt. He had just stolen a twelve pack of beer. The police officer apologized and quickly got back in his car. He said I matched the description of the suspect, and that he was sorry. He sped off. I slowly stood up and brushed off my tan khakis. I looked at my white t-shirt and dark blue sweater vest. I picked up my computer, sighed, and kept walking to my dorm.
I know intimately how my culture views me. I know it has continued to get better over time. I know we still have a very long way to go. In the case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman the distance we have yet to cross becomes abundantly clear. The hate that has risen from this case is stifling. The hate is buttressed by a state law that is like gasoline on fire, feeding the hate.
The laws of Florida require that George Zimmerman be found not guilty. He was defending himself. The law says if he feared for his life, then he was within the boundaries of the law in using deadly force to defend himself. This is the law, and just to be clear, it is unjust.
The letter of the law is not synonymous with justice. Once it was illegal for a black man to drink from the same water fountain as a white man. Once upon a time it was illegal for a black person to marry a white person (Alabama finally removed its anti-miscegenation law in 2000!) Once upon a time though it was illegal to commit murder if you killed a black man you might stand trial, but you had no fear of being convicted, because justice and the law were not in alignment, and murdering people of color was just fine.
People say that the jury must find Zimmerman guilty because of Florida law. What they are missing is that true justice is blind not only to cultural disparity but to the law as well. True justice has no favorites, including the law. Justice is served well when in line with the law, but the law must always strive to be in alignment with justice. When the law is out of alignment and justice prevails the culture learns, grows, and evolves, and our society realizes that a given law MUST BE CHANGED!
The Florida Stand Your Ground Law is inherently flawed, and in a host of cases that are coming to light such as black woman going to jail for firing into the ceiling to ward off her ex-husband who threatened to kill her. She claimed Stand Your Ground. She is going to prison for twenty years.
The Florida Stand Your Ground Law does not support justice and it will now face the weight of the wider society as something crafted in the blind stupidity of man’s desire to play television cowboy, and create reality television on wherever corner they may stand, be they at the airport, at church, at a kindergarten, or the park. The irrationality that says if you’re afraid you’re going to die you can kill a human being wantonly without due consideration devalues life, and is antithetical to an evolving society. The law is an antiquated throwback to a different era and we must make Florida do what is right, make this law history.
I despair for our culture in this moment of ethnic disparity and fulminating racism. This is not a race issue because we are one race. It is not an ethnicity issue because this is not about Anglo versus African-American or Latino vs. African-American. It is however a racism issue because of what is occurring outside of what happened between man and child. The wider debate is what brings racism into the issue.
The Reverend’s Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson did not bring racism into the issue. The rest of us watching television, listening to radio, and reading on the web have brought racism into the issue. And how is racism so deeply ingrained in this issue?
Simple, as scientific studies have shown, our culture harbors deep-seated ingrained negative sentiments toward blacks, no matter your ethnicity. What does this tell us? Read this carefully and internalize how racism comes into play here … the sociological science tells us that for many of us no matter what we see or what we are told we will automatically assume that Travyon Martin as the black person is inherently evil … just because. I say this again, the science tells us that we will automatically assume that Travyon Martin as the black person is inherently evil … just because. And we see the proof of this all over the web like wildfire spreading through a bone-dry forest.
We see pages dedicated to hanging Trayvon Martin. We see people saying he was a criminal, a weed smoking wannabe thug, a lowly mongrel nigger piece of shit that was attacking another brown person (despite him being half white, which adds an insidiously stupid dimension to the argument) and truly deserved to be shot through the heart. He had to be killed because he was going to kill an innocent white ma … brown man.
With the application of the critical thinking mind, utilizing logic to understand what social science reveals, we can fully understand how racism plays a part in this cultural debate about whether a child deserved to die. We can understand, though the disgust of it boggles the mind, why so many white people refuse to call Trayvon a child and instead refer to him as a thug, wannabe gangsta, piece of trash. We can understand why seemingly rational people look at this case, where a child was murdered, albeit by accident, and they can kind of shrug and say, well it was very unfortunate, but don’t you think he brought it on himself, it doesn’t matter if he was walking home with soda and skittles. You know, he shouldn’t have done it. We can understand when they look at web sites and listen to Fox news play internet character assassination and cast a child as public enemy number one in becoming who met justice at the hands of an untrained vigilante hero who was saving the world from black death. We can even understand white, black and brown, half-ethnic, from African to Latin looking at this case and saying, Zimmerman was simply protecting himself, that’s all. Trayvon clearly deserved what happened to him.
When they all look at Trayvon’s mother and father and say they were a broken family with shady parenting skills raising a future criminal that would only plague the neighborhood, we can understand. When we let go of emotion, though we are loathe to do so, and embrace what the science tells us, the irrational hate for Trayvon Martin becomes abundantly clear. An experiment with a young black girl who is asked to pick from two dolls the one she likes best shows us the cultural truth. She picks the white doll. When asked why, she says the black doll is bad, the white doll is good.
Nobody wants to be black … not even black people.
Of course, this is not true by any stretch of the imagination, but it speaks deeply to the state of our culture and how in an age when a black man can be President the peculiar rot at the birth of our nation still creates deep seated cultural norms that persist on subliminal levels, norms so powerful that they affect even our children.
The irrational hate for Trayvon Martin is a function of our culture, and only a few of us truly understand this. The majority of us only accept this truth in calm times. During times of ethnic upheaval in matters of justice we lose our rational minds and the truth of this science jumps to the forefront, and we toss reason to the wind. We must embrace critical thinking and as one understand what happens to us in the crucible. We must see ourselves for who and what we are, embrace it, and change it appropriately. If we do this, then what must happen becomes abundantly clear.
In a civilized society you cannot kill someone without due concern. Police officers go on suspension once they kill someone and must face a review. The general public, who can legally own firearms, that still far too often kill the owner by his own hand or the hand of his child, cannot and must not be allowed to kill without due consideration at the moment of the act. What does this mean? It means the night Trayvon Martin was murdered by accident; George Zimmerman should have been sitting behind bars. He is not qualified to enforce the law. He is not qualified to discharge his firearm in an enforcement capacity. He is clearly just not qualified at all. And based upon what we now understand about our culture we can clearly see that justice in the court of public opinion, and perhaps even in the courtroom, is being hampered by a backward state law, and the undeniable truth of our social science, but of which can be corrected, if we only have the courage to do so.
Justice is blind, and if she balances her scales appropriately then without question the jury will return a verdict of manslaughter, Zimmerman will receive 20 years in prison for taking the life of a child by accident, as punishment even if you did not mean it is due recourse for killing someone, for we must not forget that Trayvon Martin was a life, and he mattered. Such justice will crack the Stand Your Ground Law on its side, and a state that made a criminal its Lieutenant Governor and a man who skirted being a felon its Governor will have to become, at last, rational … and think.
Consider this critically.