And we’re back.
I needed some time off and I took off. No mystery to it. I’ve written about dead Black bodies that only came to my attention when they ceased being live Black bodies. I could have lived a happy life blissfully ignorant of Trayvon Martin, Jonathan Ferrell, Justin Davis, Renisha McBride, Hadiya Pendleton, Antonio Smith or Michael Brown’s existence. Now they are part of mine. Despite never knowing them or meeting a part of them lives on in me and their restless spirits travel with me even as I wait for the next name to be added to theirs.
I could write every day for every last day of my life on dead Black bodies bleeding out in the street and never run out of material and I’m tired of it. It makes me angry and then it makes me depressed and then it makes me want to lie in bed all day long with the curtains drawn until its night again. How many words have I written over the past 22 years about dead Black kids where only the names and locations change but the details stay all too similar? I don’t know the exact number, but I know it’s been far too many.
Michael Brown and Antonio Smith were the last dead Black bodies that pushed me to and then over the edge. Ishmael Reed once declared “writin’ is fightin’ “, but these were the murders that made me drop my gloves. It’s not that I’m never gonna stop writing or fighting. How can I when I know I’m not going to throw a brick through anybody’s window or burn down anyone’s store or spit in the eye of any cop no matter how much I might want to.
You don’t have to smell the putrid funk of dead bodies to be sickened by it. I’m tired of writing worthless words which do nothing but make one man feel a bit better about the things he can’t stop or change. Words are the only bullets in a writer’s gun, but depending on what the subject we’re drawn to and compelled to talk about we can fire for a while before we start shooting blanks. Dead Black boys provides a lot of ammo and Lord, do I wish I could put this gun down and never pick it up again.
Yet I know I will. I always do. In six weeks or six days or six hours there will be another Mike Brown and another and another after that. Dead Black bodies is a growth industry. I’m never going to run out. No matter what else draws me away the certainty of cold hard steel tearing through warm soft flesh will draw me back to this subject time and again.
It will make me angry and it will make me mad and it will make me so depressed I’ll want to lie all day in a dark room with the curtains drawn and I’ll be thankful for only one thing: that’s it’s not my son or daughter.
I’ll pray it’s never my son lying face down in the street or my daughter staring up at the stars with dead eyes wide open that see nothing. I’ll pray for that even as curse living in a sick, sick, SICK world where any parent anywhere should ever have to pray “Lord, don’t let it be mine, let it be someone else”
Maybe tomorrow nobody will die. Maybe nowhere in the world no trembling hostage will have some sadistic bastard cut his head off. Maybe a Black teenager won’t get blown away with his hands raised hoping to save his life from a White cop determined to take it. Maybe no woman will be raped or beaten or strangled. Maybe there won’t be any war anywhere because maybe both sides decide to take a day off.
Maybe. And maybe I’ll just wake up and wait for the next batch of bad news to come looking for me.
The one thing I want to make clear is while I’m in pain over the murder of Justin Davis by Michael Dunn, I’m not in any more pain than I am over the death of a Hadiya Pendelton and the distressingly long list of Black people who meet their ends not at the hands of a trigger-happy Dunn or George Zimmerman, but through random acts of cruel and destructive street violence.
Hadiya Pendleton was the innocent victim of gang warfare. President Obama mentioned her in his State of the Union address.
CBS 2′s Jim Williams talked to Hadiya’s parents, who despite their grief have been very busy in the past year. January 29th is an anniversary Cleo and Nate Pendleton dread.
Cleo Pendleton, Hadiya’s mother, called it “the darkest day of our lives.”
“I don’t look forward to the 29th at all,” said Hadiya’s father, Nate Pendleton.
“I’m afraid of the 29th because I remember what it felt like last year,” Cleo said.
One year ago Wednesday, their daughter Hadiya was shot to death near her high school. The 15-year-old honor student was the victim of alleged gang members who fired into a crowd.
“We grieve always. Talking to you, we’re grieving. Talking about our baby is sad because it’s in the past tense,” said Cleo Pendleton.
The Pendletons will mark the anniversary at an after-school assembly with Hadiya’s classmates at King College Prep High School, which has been decked out in purple – Hadiya’s favorite color.
I’m angry and I’m hurt, but not more angry and hurt than I am when the 11:00 news is on and there’s yet another shooting and yet another dead body on the South side of the city where I live. I’ve written thousands upon thousands upon thousands about Black boys and Black girls and Black men and Black women and Black children who met premature and senseless ends at the hands of someone who looks like them.
To limit my outrage to White killers and Black victims or fatal encounters with cops marginalizes and trivializes the little murders that aren’t front page news, don’t spark marches or soul-searching speeches and commentaries or shake our collective consciences. Every murder matters to somebody and it shouldn’t take an angry racist like Michael Dunn to make Justin Davis matter to me.
In 2012, USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham wrote, “Taking on this problem is no civil rights photo op. It’s a campaign that could last as long as the U.S. military action in Afghanistan — America’s longest war. But the payoff for solving it would be huge. It could stabilize black communities…most important, a campaign to end these murders will save the lives of the thousands of blacks who are killed by other blacks each year, an effort that currently lacks the intensity of the call for justice for Trayvon Martin.”
Had Justin died from a bullet fired by a brother instead of a bigot would his death mean any less to me? If Black life isn’t valued and treasured and protected among each other we can hardly be shocked when it is not valued by anyone else.
I grieve for every deplorable death in my community.. The tragedy of a murdered Black child is not magnified exclusively by the White skin of their killer.
We can do better. We must do better. Nothing less than our the future of the race is at stake and when our children are lost to We can spare some family the agony the families of Hadiya, Justin and Trayvon live with every day.
To paraphrase Joseph Stalin, every kid’s death is a tragedy. The fact we don’t know all their names should not make them only a statistic.
Sometimes I’m asked, “Why do you write about George Zimmerman so much?” Trust me when I say, I would rather not write about him at all. In a perfect world he would be serving the next 25 years behind bars for the killing of Trayvon Martin, but there is no perfect world and as long as Zimmerman keeps getting in my face and flaunting his disrespect for the dead, I will never stop hounding him.
Zimmerman craves attention and his latest bid for it was the announcement he had partnered with a celebrity boxing promoter named Damon Feldman to stage a fight for charity. The erstwhile opponent for the 30-year-old vigilante is rapper Earl “DMX” Summers who is 43 and fresh out of a recent stint in rehab.
“Prior to the incident, I was actually going to the gym for weight loss and doing boxing-type training for weight loss,” Zimmerman told Radar.com, “A mutual friend put me in contact with Damon and provided me with an opportunity and motivation to get back in shape and continue with my weight loss goals and also be able to help a charity out.”
The “incident” Zimmerman referred to is the shooting of Martin.
DMX is eager for the match as he told TMZ.com, “I am going to beat the living fuck out him … I am breaking every rule in boxing to make sure I fuck him right up.”
DMX added, “Once I am done with him, I am going to whip my dick out and piss on him … right in his muthafuckin’ face.”
The “fight” would be a three-round, pay-per-view event. There were no shortage of prospective challengers willing to punch Zimmerman in the face, but apparently they decided taking on a younger opponent might put the vigilante at too great a risk.
This is The Game. He is 6’5, 240 lbs. He didn’t much like that picture of him the Zimmerman groupies tried to pass off to trash Trayvon. He has a Trayvon tattoo on his leg. He says, “I would box him to knock him out,” adding, “I would definitely take pleasure in it. It’s legal, and I want to show him you can solve your disputes without a weapon.”
It would be a short fight. Two hits. The Game hits Zim. Zim hits the ground.
But the ref would have to check George for weapons because we know he doesn’t process getting his ass kicked real well. The last time that happened he wound up getting his ass handed to him. So he cheated and “won.”
There’s a natural, visceral and understandable urge to see Zimmerman get what little brains he has beaten out. As his ex-wife Shellie said of him, “George feels invincible.” What better way to prove that invincibility and his superiority than to take down another Black man who crosses his path?
The problem is that this wouldn’t be the delayed gratification everyone who believes Zimmerman got away with murder is craving. Zimmerman is playing us for fools. He has no remorse for what he did. He’s never apologized to The Martin family. He’s simply trying to cash in on his notoriety.
The show must not go on.
There is a petition on Change.org to put a stop to this vile farce.
It’s a scary time we live in when a child murderer and domestic abuser is granted celebrity status and the opportunity to make money off the blood and tears of his victims. Sadly that’s exactly what we’re seeing, as news broke that George Zimmerman has been chosen to fight in a televised Celebrity Boxing Match slated for March 1, according to reports.
While the allure of such a spectacle may be strong for many, we must all be mindful of the fact that each person who tunes in would be contributing to the ratings that will help line Zimmerman’s pockets. After the hysteria has died down he’ll be richer (as will whoever fights him) and we’ll be his investors, not to mention perpetrators of his false celebrity status.
We must not stand for this. We must not watch idly as Zimmerman is allowed to make a mockery of not just his victims and their families but society as a whole. This is not entertainment, but rather a shameful spectacle indicative of just how low we risk sinking as a culture if we allow ourselves to tolerate and worse, participate in, such an atrocious display of callous inhumanity.
Any venue that would host this bullshit “fight” should be picketed, any charity that would accept Zimmerman’s blood money will be boycotted and any entrance George tries to enter thru should force him to run a gauntlet of protesters lined up on both sides raining spittle and flinging flaming bags of dog crap upon him. And if no one else will do it, I will go and do it myself.
This is a monstrous travesty and a mockery of the murder of Trayvon Martin. If America has become so depraved, jaded and starved for fresh forms of “entertainment” it will tune into staged fights with a killer, then why not bring back donkeys vs. virgins shows and biting off the heads of live chickens while we’re at it?
This is an embarrassing and vulgar display of total contempt and shame on everyone involved in it and shame on anyone who would even dream of watching it.
George Zimmerman is in trouble again? Surprise, surprise.
No surprise. Not here. After all, his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Shellie Zimmerman said Boy George felt “invincible” after the not guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin case.
The warnings were there before Zimmerman killed Martin. Since the verdict Zimmerman has been busted for speeding (twice) and a domestic abuse incident where he allegedly assaulted Shellie and her father. No charges were filed.
Bill O’Reilly reported on his show he had received e-mails from Zimmerman supporters suggesting Poor George is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What a load. The ones suffering here are Zimmerman’s army of idiots and they suffer from the delusion this killer is sort sort of poor, persecuted “hero.”
Zimmerman is driving around free, buying guns and beating up knocked-up girlfriends. Where’s the PTSD supposed to be in his devil-may-care lifestyle. He has no job and he sure hasn’t missed any meals. Outwardly, Boy George looks as happy as a pig in mud.
These are the weapons that were in Zimmerman’s possession.
It appears from the artillery, George lives in constant fear for his life.
Look at the record. Zimmerman has been violent toward cops, girlfriends and young Black men carrying cans of teas and bags of candy. This is not a nice man who is simply misunderstood.
A thug will be a thug, a killer will be a killer and a violent man will continue to be violent. Zimmerman WILL kill again. It’s a question of when, not if. When it does and some woman unlucky enough to be with him or another Black teenager lies dead in a chalk line it can’t be said, “We had no idea this would happen.”
Give a violent man the means to be violent repeatedly only makes it inevitable he will commit more violence. Zimmerman got his taste of blood in killing Trayvon and that’s why he will kill again. He liked the taste.
God bless the defenders of George Zimmerman. They know not what they enable.
- No Isht Sherlock: George Zimmerman Juror Says He Deserves To Be In Prison (bossip.com)
- Right wing media turns on George Zimmerman (thegrio.com)
- George Zimmerman’s ‘Right To Bear Arms’ REVOKED! (jeterink.wordpress.com)
- Zimmerman ‘has PTSD, millions in debt’ : ‘His life is ruined by what they’ve done to him’ (freenorthcarolina.blogspot.com)
I haven’t been able to say anything about the killing of Renisha McBride for the same reason I haven’t been able to write my reaction to seeing 12 Years A Slave.
It’s too real and too much pain involved. I needed a little time to compress and process. Now that I have, here’s what I have to say.
Your name is Renisha McBride. You are 19 years old and you live in Detroit. You are in the suburb of Dearborn Heights and get in a car crash. Your cell phone is dead. You’re injured and bleeding. You go looking for help and knock on the door of a house. Someone opens the door armed with a loaded gun, shoots a woman in her face and then claims it “discharged by accident?”
I call “bullshit” on that.
A gun doesn’t aim itself and triggers don’t pull themselves. Human beings do that.
Scared, stupid, racist human beings who can kill an injured and unarmed woman and two weeks later the killer still hasn’t been arrested or even identified.
Smells like George Zimmerman chillin’ at the crib for nearly 45 days after blowing away Trayvon Martin all over again only this time it’s a remix with the bizarre circumstances of the Jonathan Ferrell shooting of a few months ago. As if Black people needed yet another reminder of how cheaply their lives are regarded by the injustice system here comes a hard slap across the face.
Yes, it’s a different situation from the Ferrell shooting in that in this case if was a homeowner, not a cop, who blew Renisha McBride away.
Otherwise, what’s so different?
The overarching lesson here seems to be if you’re Black and you get in a car crash at night and your cell phone is out of juice and you need help, DON’T go knocking on the door of any nearby homes unless you want to get shot.
Just sit there in the wreckage of your vehicle and suffer. You’ll still be injured, but you might not end up dead.
All things considered, is slowly freezing to death or dying slowly of internal injuries so much worse or any less than being shot in the face with a .12 gauge shotgun by some trigger-happy cretin?
Each of these cases have more than one thing in common. They each have a White shooter (with the exception of Zimmerman) and a Black victim and all of them united by the supposed fear of the shooter of the victim.
Each of these cases shows how “laws” like Stand Your Ground have been designed to protect the killers, not the victims. There is a culture of death that already plagues the Black community as they die by violence perpetrated among themselves, but White fear of Black people has become legally sanctioned as reason enough to kill them with impunity.
The American system of jurisprudence is blind, but it is not color blind. If the race of the shooter and the victim were reversed there is no way a Black man would not be arrested for shooting a 19-year-old White female in the face as she sought help after an auto accident.
We don’t know why Mr. X shot McBride. We know he is 54 years old and a White male. His attorney says he feared McBride was trying to break into his home and he shot her accidentally which if you believe that, I have some nice property in the Everglades to sell you.
Where is the evidence Renisha attempted to break into the house of the man who shot her?
Self-defense only applies when someone needs to defend themselves (or at least it did before SYG laws turned the concept upside down). Renisha was injured, disoriented and unarmed. Where is the threat? Or is knocking on a door now grounds to shoot someone in the face?
Trayvon Martin. Jonathan Ferrell. Renisha McBride. Scared shooters. Dead Black people.
Trayvon Martin. Black male. Racially profiled. Shot by vigilante. Dead.
Jonathan Ferrell. Black male. Car crash. Seeks help. Shot by cop. Dead.
Renisha McBride. Black female. Car crash. Seeks help. Shot by homeowner. Dead.
Once is accident. Twice is coincidence. Third time is proof.
People whom are not protected by the law will soon have no respect for the law. If that is the lesson America wants to teach its Black citizens, they should know they are building a hothouse where only discontent, rage and hate will grow.
When it reaches full bloom it won’t be pretty to behold. That’s not a warning. That’s a prophecy.
- Dream Hampton on Renisha McBride and ‘Criminalizing Black Corpses’ (colorlines.com)
- Justice for Renisha (whyracestillmatters.wordpress.com)
- Renisha McBride And Kym Worthy – OpEd (eurasiareview.com)
- Autopsy: Renisha McBride blasted in face; still no charges for shooter (salon.com)
Shellie Zimmerman is not a sympathetic figure. For over a year she played the part of the dutiful, stoic wife, standing by the side of her husband, George Zimmerman as he went on trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Shellie did the supportive spouse role part so well, to save her hubby’s worthless ass she even lied to a judge about the couple being destitute and was charged with committing perjury.
The trial is over. George walked and Shellie’s done keeping the faith. This week she filed for divorce from the exonerated killer. The finishing stroke may have been when Shellie went to court to answer for her own crime of perjury where she lucked on and received probation instead of jail time.
But where was George?
Not standing by his woman the way his woman had stood by him. The day she was sentenced George Zimmerman was not in court to support her and Shellie was pissed.
She went public with her anger and disappointment as she jacked up the bus and rolled Boy George under it.
“I have a selfish husband,” Shellie told Good Morning America, taking the opportunity to really pile it on. “And I think George is all about George.” The not-guilty verdict, she said, has him feeling “invincible” and “making some reckless decisions,” like speeding and gun shopping. She’s seeking custody of the couple’s two dogs.
“I stood by my husband through everything and I kind of feel like he left me with a bunch of broken glass that I’m supposed to now assemble and make a life,” she said. “I have been married to a person for about seven years and I don’t think I ever really knew him at all.”
Shellie’s claim that she and Boy George had an argument shortly before he shot Trayvon Martin is interesting. It certainly raises questions about what his state of mind was though they probably would not have come out during a trial. However, given George’s history with women such as his previous fiancée taking out a restraining order against him and a cousin who claims he sexually assaulted her it’s another puff of smoke that reveals a fiery, hidden personality.
The couple have no children and Shellie is asking in her divorce petition for custody of their two dogs, as well as demanding her jobless husband pay the premiums for a permanent life insurance policy, jointly sharing their bank accounts as well as any financial settlement that might come his way should he win his defamation suit against NBC.
“I stood by my husband through everything,” she told ABC, “and I kind of feel like he left me with a bunch of pieces of broken glass that I’m supposed to now assemble and make a life.”
Trayvon Martin could tell her how hard that is. Or at least he could have if her soon to be ex-husband hadn’t murdered him.
I don’t feel sorry for Shellie Zimmerman because hers is not a sad story. She stood by her husband and showed him a loyalty he had no interest in returning. As he speeds around the country feeling cocky and “invincible” it’s inevitable at some point George’s arrogant swagger will catch up with him.
The law may have given George a pass, but justice will find him and when it does, Shellie may be glad she’s not around when it does.
- George Zimmerman’s Wife Says He Is “Selfish” (bet.com)
- George Zimmerman’s wife Shellie to file for divorce after six years (theguardian.com)
- George Zimmerman’s Wife Files For Divorce (abcactionnews.com)
1. Charles Barkley, the Still Round Mound of Rebound: “Well, I agree with the verdict. I feel sorry that young kid got killed, but they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him. Something clearly went wrong that night — clearly something went wrong — and I feel bad for anybody who loses a kid, but if you looked at the case and you don’t make it — there was some racial profiling, no question about it — but something happened that changed the dynamic of that night.”
“Mr. Zimmerman was wrong to pursue, he was racial profiling, but I think Trayvon Martin — God rest his soul — I think he did flip the switch and started beating the hell out of Mr. Zimmerman. But it was just a bad situation.”
“I just feel bad because I don’t like when race gets out in the media because I don’t think the media has a ‘pure heart,’ as I call it. There are very few people who have a pure heart when it comes to race. Racism is wrong in any shape [or] form — there are a lot of black people who are racist, too. I think sometimes when people talk about race, they act like only white people are racist. There are a lot of black people who are racist. And I don’t like when it gets out there in the media because I don’t think the media has clean hands.”
Neither do you, Chuck.
2. Bill Cosby, Cranky Comedian: “See this racial stuff goes into a whole bunch of discussion which has stuff that you can’t prove. You can’t prove if somebody is a racist unless they really come out and do the act and is found to be that.”
3. Ted Nugent, Aging Rocker, NRA Member, Draft Dodging Dickhead: The race-baiting industry saw an opportunity to further the racist careers of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the Black Panthers, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, et al, who then swept down on the Florida community refusing to admit that the 17-year-old dope smoking, racist gangsta wannabe Trayvon Martin was at all responsible for his bad decisions and standard modus operendi of always taking the violent route.”
“Trayvon had no reason not to attack, because it was the standard thug thing to do. See Chicago any day of the week.”
Ted is well-known for not using drugs or alcohol. The Nuge’s vice was groupies,, Lots of then and if they were pre-pubescent girls at the time, that didn’t slow Teddy’s roll. Maybe he has syphilis from too much sex with no latex. One can only hope.
4. Lupe Fiasco: “Rub your face in it! Swallow down that hard pill! Black blood spills in the streets of America nightly at the hands other blacks,” reads one tweet. “Half y’all been partying to Black Death for the past 2 decades…the other half watched the party…don’t be angry now!”
“Nobody knows what really happened except Trayvon and Zimmerman. The justice system relies on reasonable doubt not our emotions.”
“The case should have never been televised as the potential to antagonize US race relations was, in my dumb opinion too risky & unnecessary.”
When a man calls his own opinions “dumb” I have no choice but to concur. Lupe is a Fiasco.
5. Jimmy Carter, Failed Ex-President: “I think the jury made the right decision based on the evidence presented, because the prosecution inadvertently set the standard so high that the jury had to be convinced that it was a deliberate act by Zimmerman that he was not at all defending himself, and so forth. It’s not a moral question, it’s a legal question and the American law requires that the jury listens to the evidence presented.”
Thank you Mr President for reminding me why I voted for John Anderson. It took Clinton and Obama both winning second terms to finally rid the Democratic Party of the stink of your loser ass.
6. Alveda King, Martin Luther King’s right-wing niece, but mostly a nobody: “It is not helpful to race-bait. “[The] NAACP and all of the organizations … We need to wonder why they’re doing that, what kind of checks and money they’re getting behind the scenes to stir us up into racial anarchy.
“We should be speaking nonviolence, justice, peace and love as Trayvon’s parents are doing, by the way. So we need to ask why they’re race baiting, because they are. There’s no black race, white race, yellow race and red race. The other thing is, Mr. Zimmerman is not a Caucasian. He’s a Hispanic. The media is somehow forgetting that, so [there are] all of these nuances, all of the race-baiting, all of the pain.”
“Stop thinking that this is a race thing between separate races. This is all human beings here. If we’re still feeling that one part of our community is better than the other because of skin color, that’s got to change right now.”
Aw, go pimp your dead uncle’s last name some more. That’s what you do best.
7. Ann Coulter: Black liberals keep bemoaning the danger to their own teenage sons after the “not guilty” verdict in George Zimmerman‘s murder trial. To avoid what happened to Trayvon Martin, their boys need only follow this advice: Don’t walk up to a stranger and punch him, ground-and-pound him, MMA-style, and repeatedly smash his head against the pavement.
Perhaps, someday, blacks will win the right to be treated like volitional human beings. But not yet.
Perhaps, someday, Ann Coulter won’t say something that is vile, repugnant, racist and stupid, but she’ll probably be lying in her casket when that day comes.
8. Bill O’ Reilly, Well-Paid, Big Mouth Angry White Guy: The sad truth is that from the President on down, our leadership has no clue, no clue at all about how to solve problems within the black community. And many are frightened to even broach the issue. That’s because race hustlers and the grievance industry have intimidated the so- called “conversation,” turning any valid criticism of African-American culture into charges of racial bias.
Trayvon Martin was killed because circumstances got out of control. He was scrutinized by a neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, because of the way he looked. Not necessarily his skin color, there is no evidence of that but because he was a stranger to Zimmerman and was dressed in clothing sometimes used by street criminals.
It was wrong for Zimmerman to confront Martin based on his appearance. But the culture that we have in this country does lead to criminal profiling because young black American men are so often involved in crime, the statistics overwhelming.
But here is the headline: young black men commit homicides at a rate 10 times greater than whites and Hispanics combined. When presented with damning evidence like that, and like the mini-holocaust in Chicago where hundreds of African-Americans are murdered each year the civil rights industry looks the other way or makes excuses. They blame guns, poor education, lack of jobs, rarely do they define the problem accurately. So here it is. The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African-American family.
You want a conversation, you got it. You want a better situation for blacks, give them a chance to revive their neighborhoods and culture. Work with the good people to stop the bad people. Pumping money into the chaos does little. You can’t legislate good parenting or responsible entertainment. But you can fight against the madness, with discipline, a firm message and little tolerance for excuse-making.
It is now time for the African-American leadership, including President Obama to stop the nonsense. Walk away from the world of victimization and grievance and lead the way out of this mess.
Big Bill has vast experience dealing with Blacks as he shared in 2007 when as Al Sharpton’s dinner guest at Sylvia’s in Harlem, O’Reilly was flabbergasted to report, “[There] wasn’t any kind of craziness at all. There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming, ‘M.F.-er, I want more iced tea.’ It was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense that people were sitting there and they were ordering and just having fun.”
Bill O’Reilly: BFF with the Black Community.
9. Richard Cohen Washington Post columnist and reactionary: I don’t like what George Zimmerman did, and I hate that Trayvon Martin is dead. But I also can understand why Zimmerman was suspicious and why he thought Martin was wearing a uniform we all recognize. I don’t know whether Zimmerman is a racist. But I’m tired of politicians and others who have donned hoodies in solidarity with Martin and who essentially suggest that, for recognizing the reality of urban crime in the United States, I am a racist. The hoodie blinds them as much as it did Zimmerman.
I hate to tell you Richard, but when you make a sweeping generalization about every Black kid who wears a hoodie with “the reality of urban crime” that is not just unrealistic, it’s a little bit racist.
10. Allen West: One-Term Congressman and Full-Time Dipshit: “I am a black male who grew up in the inner city of Atlanta and no one ever followed me in a mall. I don’t recall any doors clicking when I crossed the street. And I never had anyone clutching their handbag when I got on an elevator. I guess having two awesome parents who taught me to be a respectful young man paid dividends.”
Ooh. Nice burn of Trayvon Martin’s parents, Al It’s too bad your “awesome parents” didn’t teach you to be respectful of a family grieving for their murdered son. They should have taught you not to be such a flaming asshole.
- Zimmerman Backlash Continues Thanks to Media Misinformation (reason.com)
- Trayvon Martin: the face of racial relations (iamdidara.wordpress.com)
- Op-ed: Yes, the Zimmerman case was about race (thegrio.com)
Hey, you know that Black guy in the White House who supposedly never ever talks about issues of great concern to Black folks?
He just did. About the biggest issue of great concern to Black folks. So you can stop whining about it. At least for the rest of today.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: That’s so — that’s so disappointing, man. Jay, is this kind of — the kind of respect that you get? (Laughter.)
Q: Wake up!
Q: What brings you out here, Mr. –
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, on — on — on television it usually looks like you’re addressing a full room.
Q: (Laughs.) It’s just a mirage.
Q: There’s generally not –
PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right.
Q: (Inaudible) — got the Detroit story.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I got you. All right. Sorry about that. Do you think anybody else is showing up? Good.
Well, I — I wanted to come out here first of all to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions and is — is very much looking forward to the session.
Second thing is I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks there are going to obviously be a whole range of issues — immigration, economics, et cetera — we’ll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.
The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week, the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling. I gave an — a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday, but watching the debate over the course of the last week I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.
First of all, you know, I — I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s — it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.
And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.
And you know, I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.
The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there are going to be a lot of arguments about the legal — legal issues in the case. I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.
The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a — in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works.
But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that — that doesn’t go away.
There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.
The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.
Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact, although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.
We understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.
And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.
I think the African-American community is also not naive in understanding that statistically somebody like Trayvon Martin was probably statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.
So — so folks understand the challenges that exist for African- American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it or — and that context is being denied. And — and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.
Now, the question for me at least, and I think, for a lot of folks is, where do we take this? How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction? You know, I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through as long as it remains nonviolent. If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family.
But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do? I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government — the criminal code. And law enforcement has traditionally done it at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.
That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation, we can’t do some things that I think would be productive. So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.
Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it’d be productive for the Justice Department — governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.
You know, when I was in Illinois I passed racial profiling legislation. And it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.
And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way, that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and in turn be more helpful in applying the law. And obviously law enforcement’s got a very tough job.
So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought bear if state and local governments are receptive. And I think a lot of them would be. And — and let’s figure out other ways for us to push out that kind of training.
Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than defuse potential altercations.
I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the stand your ground laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.
On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?
And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?
And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.
Number three — and this is a long-term project: We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?
You know, I’m not naive about the prospects of some brand-new federal program.
I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I do recognize that as president, I’ve got some convening power.
And there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front. And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African-American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that — and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed — you know, I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation. And we’re going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that.
And then finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. You know, there have been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.
On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s a possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can; am I judging people, as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.
And let me just leave you with — with a final thought, that as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. I doesn’t mean that we’re in a postracial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated. But you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they’re better than we are. They’re better than we were on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.
And so, you know, we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues, and those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions. But we should also have confidence that kids these days I think have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did, and that along this long, difficult journey, you know, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.
All right? Thank you, guys.
Q: Could you –
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Now you can — now you can talk to Jay.
(Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service)
- Barack Hussein Obama, The President Of ALL Of The United States, Speaks On Trayvon Martin (theobamacrat.com)
- “Trayvon Martin could have been me.” – President Barack Obama (emilylhauserinmyhead.wordpress.com)
- Trayvon Martin’s parents ‘moved’ by Obama’s remarks on Zimmerman trial (thegrio.com)